American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
April 2017

Internet Overtakes TV as Main Source of News

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Hot Trends: INTERNET OVERTAKES TV AS MAIN SOURCE OF NEWS, BIG-CITY COUNTIES CONTINUE TO GROW FASTER, MAJORITY SEES NOTHING WRONG WITH GAY/LESBIAN RELATIONSHIPS, DECLINE IN MARRIAGEABLE YOUNG MEN, MANY WORKERS LOOKING FOR BETTER JOB, and more
2. Business Tools:
NEW: HOUSEHOLD SPENDING, 21st. ed.
WHO WE ARE: ASIANS, BLACKS, and HISPANICS

AMERICAN ATTITUDES, 8th ed.

AMERICAN MARKETPLACE, 13th ed.

To see Cheryl Russell’s Demo Memo blog, click here.

1. Hot Trends

Internet Overtakes TV as News Source

Write this one down for the history books. The main source of news for the largest share of the public is now the internet, supplanting television in 2016 for the first time, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey. Here’s the trend since 2010…

Percent who say internet/television is their main source of information about events in the news
2016: 46% internet versus 37% TV
2014: 35% internet versus 45% TV
2012: 30% internet versus 48% TV
2010: 22% internet versus 49% TV

Big-City Counties Continue to Grow Faster

The nation’s most urban counties continue to grow faster than any other county type according to the Census Bureau’s 2016 county population estimates. A Demo Memo analysis of 2010-to-2016 county population trends along the Rural-Urban Continuum documents ongoing metro growth (the bigger, the better) and continuing rural decline.

The Rural-Urban Continuum (RUC) is the federal government’s way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation’s 3,000-plus counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure population change between 2010 and 2016 for each rank, this is the result…

County population change 2010-2016 by RUC rank
1. 6.0% for rank 1 counties, in metros with 1 million+
2. 4.6% for rank 2 counties, in metros of 250,000 to 1 million
3. 3.0% for rank 3 counties, in metros with less than 250,000
4. 0.2% for rank 4 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop of 20,000+
5. 1.7% for rank 5 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro with urban pop of 20,000+
6. -1.0% for rank 6 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop of 2,500-19,999
7. -1.1% for rank 7 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro with urban pop of 2,500-19,999
8. -1.3% for rank 8 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop less than 2,500
9. -1.6% for rank 9 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro, urban pop less than 2,500

An examination of annual rates of population change by RUC shows population declines in every year between 2010 and 2016 for counties ranking 6, 7, 8, and 9 on the continuum. Counties with a rank of 1 on the continuum (the most urban) grew faster than any other county type in every year.

Majority: Nothing Wrong with Gay,
Lesbian Relationships

What a difference a decade makes. The percentage of Americans who think gay and lesbian relationships are “not wrong at all” climbed from just 32 percent in 2006 to the 51 percent majority in 2016, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey.

Although every generation has contributed to the growing acceptance of same-sex relationships, the biggest driver of the increase is the surge in support among Millennials. The percentage of Millennials who think there’s nothing wrong at all with gay and lesbian relationships climbed 27 percentage points during the decade, from 41 to 68 percent.

Support among Generation Xers grew the least over the decade (up only 9 percentage points). In 2016, still fewer than half of Gen Xers were in the “nothing wrong at all” camp. Same story for Boomers. Approval of same-sex relationships among the oldest Americans (aged 61 or older in 2006 and aged 71 or older in 2016) nearly doubled during the decade. But only about one-third of the oldest Americans see nothing wrong at all with same-sex sexual relationships.

Percent saying “nothing wrong at all” in 2016 (and 2006)
Millennials: 68% (41%)
Gen Xers: 46% (37%)
Boomers: 44% (32%)
Older: 34% (18%)


Half of Same-Sex Households Are Married  

Among the nation’s 858,896 same-sex households, nearly half (49.5 percent) are married couples, according to the 2015 American Community Survey. This figure is substantially higher than the 43 percent of 2014. There is little difference between men and women in the married share of same-sex couple households…
Male-male households
Spouses: 201,779
Partners: 210,222
Percent married: 49.0%
Female-female households
Spouses: 223,578
Partners: 223,317
Percent married: 50.0%

Decline in “Marriageable” Young Men

Marriage rates have fallen among younger adults over the past few decades, but they’ve fallen the most among the least educated. What is behind the disproportionate decline? A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research answers that question by testing a hypothesis: marriage rates are down the most among the least-educated (high school or less education) because the supply of “marriageable” men has dried up.

The results confirm the hypothesis. The researchers uncover a hot mess of consequences in the aggregate and in local areas that have experienced adverse shocks in manufacturing employment over the past few decades, including…

  • a decline in male and female employment
  • a decline in men’s relative earnings, especially among lower-income men
  • an increase in men’s mortality from risky and unhealthful behaviors
  • a reduction in the availability of marriage-age males in affected labor markets
  • a reduction in the percentage of young adults getting married
  • a decline in fertility
  • an increase in the percentage of births to teen and unmarried mothers
  • an increase in the percentage of children living in poverty
Bottom line: “We conclude that the declining employment and earnings opportunities faced by young (i.e. under 40) U.S. males are a plausible contributor to the changing structure of marriage and childbirth in the United States.”

Many Workers Looking for a Better Job

The findings from a survey on job search behavior should worry the nation’s employers. Many of their employees are actively looking for a better job, according to a study published on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Liberty Street Economics blog.

Using data from a labor market supplement to the New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations, researchers analyzed the job search behavior of 18-to-64-year-olds by employment status. Overall, 23 percent of employed workers had actively looked for another job in the previous four weeks, submitting an average of 4.58 job applications and receiving 0.43 job offers. Not only were a substantial percentage of employed workers actively looking for a better job, but they received more job offers than the unemployed, despite submitting fewer applications. The unemployed submitted an average of 8.08 applications in the previous four weeks and received 0.38 job offers.

Being employed, it seems, is a big advantage in the job hunt. “The job search process is more effective for currently employed workers than for the unemployed,” the researchers conclude. Not only are the employed more likely to receive job offers, but they receive better offers: “Offers received by employed workers are better than those received by the unemployed. This is true even after controlling for detailed worker characteristics and prior work history.”

Home Equity: 32% of Net Worth

The median net worth of the average household was $80,039 in 2013, according to a recently released report from the Census Bureau’s 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The 2014 SIPP includes improvements to questions designed to measure net worth, with new, topic-specific questions about types of assets such as annuities, trusts, businesses owned as investments, and educational savings accounts. Without these changes, notes the report, median net worth may have been as low as $74,083. The revised survey also included a question about student loans.

Here is the composition of net worth for American households, excluding households in the top 1 percent of net worth because their asset ownership is unlike the average…

Composition of household net worth, 2013
Home equity: 32.2%
401(k) accounts: 16.3%
IRA and Keoghs: 10.5%
Stocks, mutual funds: 9.6%
Assets at financial institutions: 9.4%
Business or profession: 5.2%
Rental property: 4.4%
Other real estate: 3.9%
Motor vehicles: 3.3%
Annuities and trusts: 3.0%
Cash value life insurance: 2.8%
Other assets: 3.6%
Unsecured liabilities: -4.7%

The 55 percent majority of households have unsecured liabilities, which include credit card debt,  student loans, medical debt, etc. Overall, 42 percent of households have credit card debt, with a median of $3,000 owed. Twenty percent of households have student loans, and those that do owe a median of $18,000.

New Details on Living Arrangements 

The Census Bureau’s 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation provides new details about the living arrangements of Americans. This is who Americans lived with in 2013 (note: categories are not mutually exclusive)…
Living arrangements
Live with a spouse: 39.2%
   Opposite-sex spouse: 39.0%
   Same-sex spouse: 0.2%
Live with parent/child: 37.4%
Live alone: 11.6%
Live with unmarried partner: 6.1%
   Opposite-sex partners: 5.7%
   Same-sex partner: 0.4%
Live with other nonrelative: 2.9%
Live with grandparent/grandchild: 0.9%
Live with sibling: 0.9%
Live with other relative: 0.9%
The SIPP survey also looked at changes in household composition. For the great majority of Americans (84 percent) household size and composition did not change over a year’s time. Another 11 percent of the population experienced one change in household composition during a year’s time–such as a birth or death or someone moving in or out of the household. Five percent of the population experienced two or more changes in household composition.

How Many Are Grandparents?

The Census Bureau’s 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation included several questions rarely asked by the federal government…

Are you a grandparent? Turns out, being a grandparent is the norm among Americans aged 30 or older who have children aged 15 or older: 61 percent of women and 57 percent of men who meet those qualifications are grandparents.

Do you have children with multiple partners? Among all Americans aged 15 or older, 10.1 percent have children with multiple partners. Among parents with two or more biological children, 20.6 percent have children with multiple partners.

Have you had children with someone other than your spouse/partner? Among married mothers aged 15 or older who do not have children with their spouse, 17.8 percent have children from a prior relationship and 12.8 percent say their spouse has children from a prior relationship. Among married fathers aged 15 or older, the equivalent figures are 16.5 and 12.6 percent. Among cohabiting parents, the percentages are much larger (50 and 32 percent for women, and 47 and 33 percent for men).

Expected Age of Retirement

More than one-third of American workers do not expect to retire until age 70 or later, according to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey. Only 4 percent of current retirees worked that long.

Expected age of retirement for workers (and actual age of retirement for retirees)
Under age 60:    9% (39%)
Aged 60 to 64: 17% (37%)
Aged 65 to 69: 37% (19%)
Aged 70-plus:  38% (  4%)

Legalize Marijuana? Most Say Yes

Among all Americans aged 18 or older, fully 60.1 percent support legalizing the use of marijuana, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey. The majority of all but the oldest Americans supports legalization…

Support legalizing marijuana
Millennials: 68.3%
Gen Xers: 56.8%
Boomers: 59.2%
Older: 37.4%

Average Earnings of Men by Education

Among men aged 18 or older with earnings, the average amount earned in 2015 was $58,944, according to the Census Bureau. This is how men’s average earnings compare by educational attainment…

$30,230 for those who did not graduate from high school
$41,942 for those with a high school diploma only
$46,154 for those with some college/associate’s degree
$79,927 for those with a bachelor’s degree
$113,279 for those with an advanced degree

Average Earnings of Women by Education

Among women aged 18 or older with earnings, the average amount earned in 2015 was $39,929, according to the Census Bureau. This is how women’s average earnings compare by educational attainment…

$17,162 for those who did not graduate from high school
$26,832 for those with a high school diploma only
$31,970 for those with some college/associate’s degree
$50,856 for those with a bachelor’s degree only
$72,006 for those with an advanced degree

Don’t Know Much about the ACA

Americans are really confused about the Affordable Care Act. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows just how confused they are. Kaiser says these are the five biggest misconceptions…
  1. Most do not know that the ACA reduced the percentage of Americans without health insurance. The 57 percent majority thinks the ACA increased the uninsured or had no effect on the number. In fact, the ACA reduced the uninsured to an historic low.
  2. Half says the ACA covers undocumented immigrants. It does not.
  3. Half does not know that the ACA eliminated out-of-pocket costs for birth control, annual checkups, well-child visits and vaccinations.
  4. Forty percent of the public think the ACA cut Medicare benefits. It did not.
  5. 29 percent of the public think most Americans get their health insurance through the ACA. In fact, only 10 percent of Americans are covered by ACA marketplace plans. Most Americans have employer-provided health insurance coverage.
These are a sampling of posts published in the past few weeks in Cheryl Russell’s Demo Memo blog. Please send questions or comments to demographics@newstrategist.com.

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Average household spending fell by at least 25 percent between 2006 and 2014, after adjusting for inflation, in the following categories…

Reading material
Women’s clothes
New cars and trucks
Natural gas
Furniture
Postage and stationary
Infants’ clothes
Mortgage interest
Landline phone service

Source:  Household Spending, 21st ed.

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BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Average household spending increased by at least 25 percent between 2006 and 2014, after adjusting for inflation, in the following categories…

Cell phone service
Pets
Health care