American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
February 2015

Median Age at First Marriage Hits High

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Hot Trends: RECORD HIGH AGE AT MARRIAGE, RECORD HIGH AGE AT FIRST BIRTH, KIDS IN HOUSEHOLDS, WHAT LOW GAS PRICES MEAN FOR THE AVERAGE AMERICAN
2. New Reference Tools: AMERICAN MARKETPLACE, AMERICAN INCOMES, AMERICAN GENERATIONS SERIES: MILLENNIALS, GENERATION X, and BOOMERS

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

1. Hot Trends

Median Age at First Marriage Hits High 

The median age at first marriage hit yet another record high in 2014, according to the Census Bureau, climbing to 29.3 years for men and 27.0 years for women.

 

The median age at first marriage bottomed out in 1956 at 22.5 years for men and 20.1 years for women–meaning nearly half of women were marrying in their teens. Since then, the median age at first marriage has climbed by nearly seven years for both men and women.

 

Age at First Birth Hits New High

The average age of American women giving birth for the first time climbed to a record high of 26.0 in 2013, up from 25.0 in 2007–the year births peaked in the United States. Age at first birth varies by race and Hispanic origin, according to estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics…

 

Average age at first birth

29.4 for Asians

26.8 for Non-Hispanic Whites

26.7 for Hispanics of Cuban origin

23.9 for Blacks

23.9 for Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin

23.4 for Hispanics of Mexican origin

22.9 for American Indians

 

What Lower Gas Prices Mean

Gasoline is one of the largest household expenses. How large? According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average household spent $2,549 on gasoline in 2013. Gasoline ranks a lofty 5th among items on which the average household spends the most (after deductions for Social Security, groceries, vehicle purchases, and rent/mortgage interest).

 

That was then, when gasoline cost $3.49/gallon. Now, with gas prices hovering at about $2.00/gallon, the average household is projected to spend roughly $1,500 on gasoline this year–a savings of more than $1,000. Gasoline could fall from 5th to 8th place in the ranking of items on which the average household spends the most–below restaurant meals, health insurance, and property taxes.

 

Household Income Rises in December 2014

Good news: Median household income climbed to $54,417 in December 2014, according to Sentier Research–$738 more than the November median, after adjusting for inflation. The statistically significant increase was due in part to the decline in consumer prices as the cost of gasoline fell. The December 2014 median was 3.3 percent higher than the December 2013 median and 5.7 percent above the $51,459 median of August 2011–the low point in Sentier’s household income series.

 

Median household income in December 2014 was still 1.5 percent below the median of June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 3.2 percent below the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 4.4 percent below the median of January 2000.

 

Children in Household by Generation, 2014

Only 28 percent of American households include children under age 18 and a larger 39 percent include children of any age. A Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2014 Current Population Survey shows how many have children in the household by generation…

 

Households with children under age 18

Millennials: 46.8%

Generation X: 55.7%

Baby Boomers: 11.5%

Older Americans: 1.1%

 

Households with children of any age

Millennials: 47.6%

Generation X: 64.9%

Baby Boomers: 30.2%

Older Americans: 12.5%

 

Most Americans Are On Facebook

The 58 percent majority of American adults use Facebook, according to a survey by Pew Research Center. Among online adults, the figure is 71 percent. Even more impressive, fully 70 percent of Facebook users check the site every day.

 

The use of Facebook far exceeds the use of other social media sites. Twenty-eight percent of online adults use LinkedIn and Pinterest, 26 percent use Instagram, and 23 percent use Twitter.

 

Percentage of online adults who use Facebook by age

Aged 18 to 29: 87%

Aged 30 to 49: 73%

Aged 50 to 64: 63%

Aged 65-plus: 56%

 

The percentage of online adults aged 65 or older who are on Facebook exceeded 50 percent for the first time in 2014, up from 45 percent in 2013 and 35 percent in 2012.

 

How Much Is “Some College”?

Nearly 35 million Americans aged 25 or older have “some college” but no degree. The “some college” crowd, in fact, is the second largest educational attainment group in the United States. It is outnumbered only by the 55 million who have a high school diploma but no further education. What does “some college” mean, exactly? The Census Bureau has the numbers…

 

People with “some college” by years of college completed

Less than one year: 16%

One year : 32%

Two years: 37%

Three years: 10%

Four-plus years: 4%

 

Food-Away-from-Home Hits All-Time High

American consumers, businesses, and governments spent $1.4 trillion on food and beverages in 2013. Almost half of that spending was devoted to food-away-from-home (restaurants, carry-outs, etc.). The 49.6 percent of spending devoted to food-away-from-home in 2013 was at an all-time high after a several years of decline following the Great Recession.

 

Share of U.S. food spending devoted to food-away-from-home

2013: 49.6%

2010: 48.6%

2000: 47.0%

1990: 43.0%

1980: 39.0%

1970: 33.4%

1960: 26.3%

 

“Two-earner households and busier lifestyles have led consumers to spend less time cooking and seek the convenience of food prepared away from home,” explains the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

 

The Rise of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are a large and growing share of health care spending. That explains why the castle-like edifices of Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, and other pharmacy chains now loom over so many street corners and shopping centers. In 2012, the total amount spent (by insurance companies, government programs, and out-of-pocket payments) on the health care received by Americans amounted to $1.351 trillion. Prescription drugs accounted for more than one-fifth of that amount in 2012–nearly double the share in 1996, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. There’s also little difference by age in the percentage of health care spending devoted to prescriptions drugs…

 

Percent of total health care spending devoted to prescription drugs in 2012 (and 1996)

For people under age 65: 21.9% (11.5%)

For people aged 65-plus: 21.3% (12.7%)

 

Financial Status of Baby Boomers

Among people aged 50 to 64, fewer than one in four feels financially secure. These are the responses of a representative sample of 50-to-64-year-olds to an AARP survey question, “What is your household’s overall financial situation?”

 

23% say they are financial secure

27% say they have enough money to get by

22% say they’re doing okay, but wish they had saved more

22% say they are struggling to make things work financially

7% say they are in poor financial shape

 

Workers Feel More Insecure

Workers today feel more insecure about their jobs than their counterparts a generation ago, according to an analysis of data in the Monthly Labor Review by business school professor Charles N. Weaver. A comparison of worker attitudes in the 1970s (1977 and 1978) with attitudes in the 2010s (2010 and 2012) reveals a growing fear…

  • In the 1970s, only 7.7 percent of workers were afraid they would lose their job. In the 2010s, the figure had climbed to 11.2 percent.
  • In the 1970s, the 59 percent majority of workers were confident in their ability to find a comparable job. In the 2010s, only 48 percent of workers had confidence.

The loss of confidence has been greater for some workers than others. Confidence has plunged the most for workers aged 30 to 49 (a 12.6 percentage point decline), men, (-12.8), high school graduates (-15.5), workers with some college but no degree (-23.1), and clerical workers (-23.9).

 

Spending on Books Plunges

In 2013, the average household spent almost as much on digital book readers ($30.18) as it did on books ($32.53). A Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey reveals a plunge in average household spending on books since 2000–a 58 percent decline, after adjusting for inflation. This is almost as steep a decline as the 65 percent drop in average household spending on newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

 

Tuesday: The Least Happy Day

Tuesday is the least happy day of the week, according to a Gallup Survey. On an average Tuesday in 2014, only 44 percent of Americans reported feeling “a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress/worry.” The other weekdays were not much better, with 45 percent feeling happiness on an average Wednesday, 46 percent on Thursdays and Mondays, and 48 percent on Fridays.

 

The happiest days are holidays. Fully 68 percent of Americans reported feeling happy on Thanksgiving Day 2014, followed by July 4 (67%), and Christmas Day (63%).

 

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

Percent distribution of Americans aged 16 or older in the labor force by generation…

iGeneration: 2.8%
Millennials: 36.7%
Gen Xers: 25.6%
Boomers: 31.4%
Older Americans: 3.4%

2. MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS

Here are all new and expanded one-stop resources for understanding American consumers–vital, cost-effective information. Get the answers you need for business success in today’s competitive economy!

 

American Incomes: Demographics of Who Has Money, 10th ed.

The 10th edition of American Incomes: Demographics of Who Has Money is your map to the changing consumer landscape, exploring and explaining the economic status of Americans in the aftermath of the Great Recession. American Incomes looks at household income trends through 2013 by age, household type, race and Hispanic origin, education, region, and work status. It examines trends in the incomes of men and women by a variety of demographic characteristics. It provides data on the wealth of American households, showing the impact of the Great Recession on household assets and debt. The poverty population is also a focus of American Incomes, which includes the following chapters:

Household Incomes This chapter examines trends in household income over the past 13 years. It also presents detailed 2013 household income statistics by age of householder, race and Hispanic origin of householder, type of household, and other important demographic characteristics.

Men’s Incomes Chapter 2 examines trends in men’s incomes and provides detailed 2013 income statistics for men by a variety of demographic characteristics.

Women’s Incomes Chapter 3 examines trends in women’s incomes and provides detailed 2013 income statistics for women by a variety of demographic characteristics.

Wealth The statistics in Chapter 4, from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances, provide a comprehensive portrait of the assets, debts, and net worth of American households by demographic characteristic. This chapter also examines 2007-to-2013 trends in wealth.

Poverty Chapter 5 shows how poverty has grown and reveals the demographics of those who are falling behind. 456 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

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American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns, 12th ed.

Quick and easy access is the goal of the new 12th edition of The American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns. Designed for convenience, The American Marketplace draws on scores of government sources to give you a population profile of the United States in one handy volume. This reference is organized into 11 chapters: attitudes, education, health, housing, income, labor force, living arrangements, population, spending, time use, and wealth.

 

The American Marketplace reveals the latest demographic trends and tells the American story. It examines changing lifestyles in rich detail, from growing racial and ethnic diversity to declining homeownership, from disappearing nuclear families to shifting patterns of household spending, from another baby bust to new attitudes toward gay marriage. New to this edition of The American Marketplace are 2013 population estimates for the nation, states, and metropolitan areas, revealing surprising patterns of growth. The Attitudes chapter has data from the 2012 General Social Survey. The Income chapter, with 2013 income statistics from the 2014 Current Population Survey, reveals the struggle to stay afloat. The Wealth chapter examines net worth in 2013 and the downward trend since the Great Recession. The American Marketplace is a reference tool that will help you cut through the clutter and track the trends. 654 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

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The American Generations Series

Each of the three volumes in the new American Generations Series provides an in-depth look at the demographic and lifestyle data needed for an understanding of each generation, how it is changing, and what to expect in the future.

 

The Millennials: Americans Born 1977 to 1994

The all new sixth edition of The Millennials is two books in one: it provides a demographic and socioeconomic profile of the Millennial generation, which spanned the ages of 20 to 37 in 2014, and it includes a special supplement on the iGeneration–the population under age 20. In these difficult economic times, perhaps no generation is more important to businesses than Millennials. For those who track generational change, the special supplement on the iGeneration will give you a preview of what is to come. 564 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF with links to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

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Generation X: Americans Born 1965 to 1976

The new eighth edition of Generation X tells the story of the small but vital generation spanning the ages of 38 to 49 in 2014. Although their numbers are small, lifestage dictates that Generation X is a vital part of the nation’s commerce and culture. People in their thirties and forties are in the crowded-nest years. They are supposed to be advancing in their careers, their incomes should be growing, and their spending should climb because of the expenses of children and teens. But the generation has been hit hard by the Great Recession and is still struggling to recover. This reference shows you how Gen Xers are coping with these demands and what to expect in the future. 344 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF with links to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

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The Baby Boom: Americans Born 1946 to 1964

After more than six decades of breaking the rules established by their elders, the Baby-Boom generation and older Americans are one and the same. In 2014, Boomers spanned the ages from 50 to 68, accounting for 24 percent of the total U.S. population and 71 percent of the population aged 50 or older. The new eighth edition of The Baby Boom: Americans Born 1946 to 1964 includes in its pages, for the first time, a statistical profile of the U.S. population aged 50 or older-absorbing the New Strategist reference Older Americans: A Changed Market into one volume. Boomers already dominate the older market, and they’re transforming it as they take charge. The Baby-Boom is your strategic guide to the generation and how it is changing what it means to be old.

438 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF with links to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

PDF with Excel links (978-1-940308-89-0)

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Multi-user $240.00

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For your convenience, all of New Strategist’s titles are available as searchable single- and multiple-user PDFs linked to spreadsheets of each data table so you can do your own analyses and create PowerPoint presentations.

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Median income of married couples in which both husband and wife work full-time: $111,369.

Median income of married couples in which the husband works full-time and the wife does not work: $68,751