American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
January 2016

Median Housing Value Grows, Finally

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Hot Trends: MEDIAN HOUSING VALUES, STATE POPULATION ESTIMATES FOR 2015, NEW LABOR FORCE PROJECTIONS, SPENDING BY GENERATION, and more

2. Data you need: Spending and Attitudes:
HOUSEHOLD SPENDING, 20th edition
BEST CUSTOMERS, 11th edition
WHO’S BUYING REPORTS, 14-volume series

AMERICAN ATTITUDES, 8th edition

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

1. Hot Trends

Median Housing Value Grows, Finally

The median value of owned homes in the United States increased in 2014 for the first time since the Great Recession. The nation’s homeowners estimated their home’s value to be a median of $181,200 in 2014, according to the American Community Survey. This is 2.5 percent more than the post-Great Recession low of $176,721 in 2013, after adjusting for inflation, but 18 percent below the 2007 median of $221,845.

Median housing value, 2007 to 2014 (in 2014 dollars)
2014: $181,200
2013: $176,721
2012: $177,247
2011: $182,705
2010: $195,311
2009: $204,363
2008: $217,271
2007: $221,845
Is There Hope for Homeownership?
Even if the homeownership rate of 25-to-34-year-olds remains in the doldrums, the number of young-adult homeowners is likely to rise in the next few years, according to a Fannie Mae analysis. With the number of 25-to-34-year-olds in the population projected to expand by about 500,000 a year for the rest of the decade, a stable homeownership rate should result in growing numbers of homeowners in the age group.
The homeownership rate of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds plunged from 46.7 percent in 2006 to just 36.9 percent in 2014, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The number of homeowners in the age group fell by 1.8 million during those years. If the homeownership rate has hit bottom and remains there, then the number of homeowners in the age group will rise by 74,000 a year. That’s a big reversal from the average annual loss of 231,000 homeowners aged 25 to 34 since 2006.
Whether the homeownership rate of 25-to-34-year-olds will stabilize is a big if, however. The Fannie Mae report notes that if the homeownership rate of the age group continues to fall at the same rate of decline as occurred from 2012 to 2014, then the number of homeowners aged 25 to 34 will shrink by 113,000 a year on average from now until 2020.
State Population Change, 2010 to 2015
Between 2010 and 2015, the U.S. population as a whole grew 3.9 percent to 321 million, according to the Census Bureau. By state, growth ranged from a high of 12.2 percent in North Dakota to a small loss in one state–West Virginia’s population fell 0.5 percent during those years.
Fastest growing states, 2010 to 2015
1. North Dakota, 12.2%
2. District of Columbia, 11.1%
3. Texas, 8.8%
4. Colorado, 8.1%
5. Utah, 7.9%
6. Florida, 7.5%
7. Nevada, 6.9%
8. Arizona, 6.6%
9. Washington, 6.3%
10. South Carolina, 5.6%
State Migration, 2010 to 2015
Americans aren’t moving as much as they once did, but those who move are having a big impact on some state populations, according to Census Bureau estimates. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia gained more domestic migrants than they lost between 2010 and 2015, while 29 states lost more than they gained. Here are the five states with the highest and lowest rates of net domestic migration during the past five years…
Highest rates of net domestic migration
1. North Dakota
2. District of Columbia
3. Colorado
4. Florida
5. South Carolina
Lowest rates of net domestic migration (losses)
1. New York
2. Illinois
3. Alaska
4. New Jersey
5. Connecticut
College Doesn’t Protect Blacks, Hispanics
College graduates weather economic downturns better than those with less education. That’s the assumption, but is it true? Only for Asians and non-Hispanic Whites, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Take a look at the inflation adjusted 2007-to-2013 trend in median net worth by educational attainment of householder for each race and Hispanic origin group…
Asian households
With bachelor’s degree: +5%
Without bachelor’s degree: -65%
Non-Hispanic White households
With bachelor’s degree: -16%
Without bachelor’s degree: -33%
Black households
With bachelor’s degree: -60%
Without bachelor’s degree: -37%
Hispanic households
With bachelor’s degree: -72%
Without bachelor’s degree: -41%
For Asians and non-Hispanic Whites, a college degree offered some protection during the Great Recession. For Blacks and Hispanics, a college degree meant greater losses. As disturbing as this finding is, it gets worse. The same pattern can be found over the longer term–from 1992 to 2013. Asian and non-Hispanic White households headed by college graduates saw their median net worth grow by more than 80 percent during those years, after adjusting for inflation, while their less-educated counterparts experienced a decline. But Black and Hispanic households headed by college graduates saw their median net worth shrink between 1992 and 2013. For Hispanic college graduates, net worth fell 27 percent during those years versus a 31 percent increase in the net worth of their less-educated counterparts. For Black college graduates, net worth fell 56 percent between 1992 and 2013 while Blacks without a college degree experienced a smaller 4 percent loss.
“College degrees alone do not provide short-term wealth protection, nor do they guarantee long-term wealth accumulation,” conclude the researchers. “The underlying factors causing racial and ethnic wealth disparities undoubtedly are complex and deeply rooted. Further research is needed.”
Labor Force Projections by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2014 to 2024
The number of non-Hispanic Whites in the labor force is shrinking, according to the latest set of projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the past decade, the number of non-Hispanic White workers fell by 2.5 million. During the next decade, they will decline by another 3 million. The non-Hispanic White share of the labor force will fall from 65 to 60 percent between 2014 and 2024.
Numerical (and percent) change in labor force by race and Hispanic origin, 2014 to 2024
Asians: +2,032,000 (23%)
Blacks: +1,899,000 (10%)
Hispanics: +7,116,000 (28%)
Non-Hispanic Whites: -3,039,000 (-3%)
Boomers Missing Go-Go Years
It looks like a lot of boomers will miss out on the go-go years of retirement. That’s because of a stunning increase in the labor force participation rate of men and women in their sixties, according to new labor force projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The labor force participation rate of men aged 62 to 64 will climb to 60 percent by 2024, up from just 45 percent in 1994. Work is now the norm for men in the age group. For their fathers who retired in the 1990s, retirement was the norm.
  • The labor force participation rate of women aged 62 to 64 will reach 47 percent by 2024, up from 33 percent a generation ago in 1994.
  • The labor force participation rate of men aged 65 to 69 will climb to 40 percent by 2024, up from 27 percent in 1994.
  • The labor force participation rate of women aged 65 to 69 will climb to 33 percent by 2024, up from 18 percent a generation ago.
Because of the growing labor force participation of older boomers, the go-go retirement market (aged 55 to 74) will be 18 percent smaller in 2024 than it would have been if boomers were retiring at the rate their parents did in 1994. The number of retirees aged 55 to 64 is projected to shrink 3 percent during the decade ahead. While the number of retirees aged 65 to 74 will increase, the gain will be less than in the 2004-14 decade. Industries that depend on go-go retirees–casinos, travel, RVs, golfing communities–may want to rethink their strategy as growth in the active retirement market will be much more modest than once anticipated.
Child Care Costs Up 70%

Among families with employed mothers who pay for child care, the average weekly cost has grown from $84 in 1985 to $143 in 2011, after adjusting for inflation–a 70 percent increase, according to a Census Bureau report. For families with preschoolers, the average weekly cost of child care in 2011 was an even higher $179.

The steep and rising cost of child care explains why so many families with preschoolers depend on grandparents. Fully 21 percent of families with preschoolers and a working mother relied on a grandparent as the primary child care provider in 2011, up from 16 percent in 1985.

Average Age at First Birth, 2014
The average age of American women giving birth for the first time climbed to a record high of 26.3 in 2014–nearly four years greater than in 1980, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Behind the rise in age at first birth is the increase in college attendance. The percentage of female high school graduates who enroll in college within 12 months of graduation climbed from half in 1980 to more than two-thirds today.
Average age at first birth
2014: 26.3
2010: 25.2
2007: 25.0
2000: 24.9
1990: 24.2
1980: 22.7
Single-Person Households by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2015
People who live alone head a substantial 28 percent of households in the United States, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. The figure varies by race and Hispanic origin. More than one in three Black households are headed by people who live alone compared with only 17 percent of Hispanic households…
Single-person households as a % of total households in 2015
17.2% of Hispanic households
18.4% of Asian households
29.5% of non-Hispanic White households
34.8% of Black households
Spending by Generation, 2014
In an experimental research effort, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has examined household spending by generation based on data from the 2014 Consumer Expenditure Survey (birth years based on Pew Research Center definitions)…
Average household spending in 2014
Millennials (1981 and later): $43,942
Generation X (1965 to 1980): $63,137
Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964): $58,202
Silent Generation (1929 to 1945): $40,923
WWII Generation (1928 and earlier): $32,610
Gen Xers spend much more on mortgage interest than any other generation. Many bought homes when housing prices were peaking. Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers spend more on cell service than landline service. Eighty percent of Millennial households own an automobile. Ownership peaks at 91 percent among Boomers and falls with age to 66 percent in the WWII generation (aged 86 or older). Gen Xers spend the most on men’s clothes. Boomers spend the most on women’s clothes. Average household spending on entertainment is highest among Gen Xers. Millennials spend relatively little on entertainment, surpassing only the WWII generation. Even the Silent generation spends more on entertainment than Millennials.
Trouble With the Redesigned CPS
Not everyone is happy with the redesigned Current Population Survey. An Employee Benefit Research Institute report questions some of the numbers emerging from the redesign.
First, some background. The Census Bureau redesigned the Current Population Survey’s income questions to better capture retirement income. The new income questions were presented to a split CPS sample in 2014 (collecting data for 2013) and to the full sample in 2015 (collecting data for 2014). The new questions successfully captured more retirement income, long known to be underreported. But anomalies are emerging in other CPS data. In particular, EBRI is troubled by a drop in retirement plan participation. Among full-time workers aged 21 to 64 in 2013, the percentage who participated in a retirement plan was only 49.5 percent based on the new questions versus 53.0 percent based on the old questions. In 2014 (when the entire CPS panel was asked the new questions), participation fell to 46.6 percent. The redesigned CPS is not only showing lower participation, says EBRI, but also declining participation–a larger decline than ever recorded in CPS data going back to 1987.
What really bugs EBRI is this: the biggest decline is occurring in the segment most likely to participate in a retirement plan–full-time workers aged 21 to 64 with earnings of $75,000 or more. The 2013 new questions found their participation to be 63.4 percent versus 68.6 percent with the old questions. In 2014, their participation declined to 61.1 percent. These declines are questionable, says EBRI, because other surveys show rising retirement plan participation.
“While the redesign of the CPS questionnaire achieved one of its primary goals of capturing more income–especially pension income–it appears to have had a serious impact on the results of other variables within the survey,” EBRI researcher Craig Copeland concludes. In the future, he says, researchers may have to turn to alternative sources–such as the National Compensation Survey–to accurately track retirement plan participation.
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

Households in which any member has a bachelor’s degree spend less than the average household on these seven foods: ground beef, roast beef, pork chops, hot dogs, dried beans, sugar, and carbonated drinks.

2. MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS

Who buys? What do they buy? How much do they spend? Get the dollar-for-dollar answers you need for business success in today’s competitive economy from these one-stop resources. You can’t get these data online!

 

Looking for customers? Repositioning your products? Americans are still spending money, but only those who are on top of the trends will know who the spenders are. The 20th edition of Household Spending: Who Spends How Much on What reveals who spent what in 2013 and the products and services they purchased. Also in this edition are comparisons of spending before (2000-06) and after (2006-13) the Great Recession and a look at the 2010-13 spending recovery.

 

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

Hardcover: $144.00 (978-1-9935114-80-2) 612 pages

Paper: $109.95 (978-1-933588-22-3)

PDF with Excel (single user): $109.95 (978-1-933588-24-7)

 

Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand, 11th edition

Find out how the American marketplace has been transformed by the Great Recession in this edition of Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand, with all-important 2013 spending data. In Best Customers you can see at a glance who spends the most and who controls the largest market share–often surprisingly different–on over 300 products and services. Each product table is accompanied by text that identifies the best customers, analyzes spending patterns, describes spending trends before (2000-06) and after (2006-13) the Great Recession, and predicts future trends based on changing demographics.

 

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

Hardcover: $138.00 (978-1-933588-07-0) 808 pages

Paper: $103.95 (978-1-933588-17-9)
PDF with Excel (single user): $103.95 (978-1-933588-21-6)
Who’s Buying Series

Get the demographics you need to target your markets with the 14-volume Who’s Buying Series, which can be purchased individually or as a set. Each volume gives you the facts about consumer spending by age, income, household type, race and Hispanic origin, region of residence, and education. To round out the spending picture, you also get who-are-the-best-customer analyses of the data. These editions reveal product-by-product spending trends before (2000-06) and after (2006-13) the Great Recession. The Who’s Buying Series includes Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic Beverages; Apparel; Entertainment; Groceries; Health Care; Household Furnishings, Services, and Supplies; Information and Consumer Electronics; Pets; Restaurants; Transportation; Travel; and Who’s Buying: Executive Summary, Who’s Buying by Age, and Who’s Buying by Race and Hispanic Origin.

 

You can see the introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages of each volume in the Who’s Buying Series at NewStrategist.com, where you can also download these unique reference tools as PDFs linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables. Individual reports: $68.95; 14-volume series: $850.00.

The 8th edition of American Attitudes: Who Thinks What about the Issues That Shape Our Lives coaxes the results of the latest (2014) General Social Survey out of the shadows of academia and makes them readily available for researchers who want to explore Americans’ changing attitudes. In its hundreds of tables, American Attitudes taps into the General Social Survey gold mine, revealing what the public thinks about topics ranging from gay marriage to the American Dream, how Americans feel about their financial status, their hopes for their children, how often they socialize and with whom, their religious beliefs, patriotic feelings, political leanings, and standard of living. It shows those answers by sex, age, race, Hispanic origin, education, and region. American Attitudes reveals 2014 attitudes by demographic characteristic, and for every 2014 question for which historical data are available, it shows the history of response all the way back to the first appearance of the question on the General Social Survey.

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

Hardcover: $138.00 (978-1-933588-20-9) 604 pages

Paper: $103.95 (978-1-885070-47-0)
PDF with Excel (single-user): $103.95 (978-1-885070-66-1)


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

Percentage of Americans aged 18 or older who think the U.S. will fight in another world war within 10 years…

2014: 59%
2010: 53%
2000: 38%
1990: 29%