American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
June 2018

Non-Hispanic Whites Peaked in 2015

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Hot Trends: NON-HISPANIC WHITE POPULATION PEAKED IN 2015, LOW FERTILITY MAY BE HERE TO STAY, CITY POPULATION GROWTH, 2010-2017, DECLINE IN MEDIAN EARNINGS OF MALE AND FEMALE COLLEGE GRADUATES, TEENS AND TECH, WHO WANTS TO BE RICH? and more

2. Business Tools:

NEW: NSP ALL ACCESS PASS to digital content
AMERICAN MARKETPLACE, 14th ed.
AMERICAN GENERATIONS, 9th ed.
DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE U.S., 5th ed.

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

1. Hot Trends 

Non-Hispanic Whites Peaked in 2015
The number of non-Hispanic Whites in the United States peaked in 2015, according to the Census Bureau’s 2017 population estimates. Between 2015 and 2017, the non-Hispanic White population declined by 41,000.

The shrinking of the non-Hispanic White population is occurring sooner than expected. The Census Bureau’s latest population projections, released earlier this year, show the number of non-Hispanic Whites increasing until 2023 and peaking at 198.7 million. Instead, the number of non-Hispanic Whites peaked in 2015 at 197.8 million–eight years sooner and about 1 million shy of the forecast.

Number of non-Hispanic Whites
2017: 197,803,083
2016: 197,834,599
2015: 197,844,074 (peak)
2010: 197,389,247

The ongoing baby bust is one of the factors behind the early peak in the number of non-Hispanic Whites. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of births to non-Hispanic Whites fell 11 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. At the same time, the number of non-Hispanic White deaths increased because of the aging of the population and the rise in mortality rates among the middle-aged. Deaths now exceed birthsamong non-Hispanic Whites.

 

Population by Race/Hispanic origin, 2017

The U.S. population grew by 16.4 million between 2010 and 2017, according to the Census Bureau. The non-Hispanic White population accounted for just 3 percent of the gain, while Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities accounted for 97 percent. The minority share of the population climbed to 39.3 percent, up from 36.2 percent in 2010. Here are the 2017 population estimates by race and Hispanic origin…

Total population: 325,719,178 (100.0%)
The U.S. population grew 5.3 percent between 2010 and 2017, a gain of 16.4 million.

Non-Hispanic Whites: 197,803,083 (60.7%)
The non-Hispanic White population grew by a minuscule 0.2 percent between 2010 and 2017. But the tiny increase masks a remarkable shift: the number of non-Hispanic Whites peaked in 2015 and fell by 41,000 between 2015 and 2017. The peak in the number of non-Hispanic Whites occurred eight years sooner than forecast by the Census Bureau.This may mean the U.S. will become minority majority sooner than the bureau’s forecast of 2045.

Hispanics: 58,946,729 (18.1%)
The Hispanic population grew 16.1 percent between 2010 and 2017, a gain of 8.2 million. Hispanics accounted for 50 percent of the nation’s population growth between 2010 and 2017.

Blacks (alone or in combination): 47,411,470 (14.6%)
The Black population grew 9.4 percent between 2010 and 2017, more than the 5.3 percent national increase. The Black population grew by 4.1 million during those years.

Asians (alone or in combination): 22,183,118 (6.8%)
The Asian population grew 24.6 percent between 2010 and 2017, more than any other race or Hispanic origin group. The Asian population grew by 4.4 million during those years.

 

Low Fertility May Be Here to Stay

“The most pressing current issue for the Social Security Trustees is how to think about the sharp decline in the total fertility rate,” says Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College in an analysis of Social Security’s 2018 Trustees Report. According to the report, which projects the finances of the Social Security program 75 years into the future, the Social Security Trust Fund this year will collect less through taxes and interest than it pays out in benefits. The fund is projected to run out of money in 2034.

The Trustees need to get the nation’s fertility rate right when they project the future finances of the system. That’s because the fertility rate is one of the most important variables for determining the long-term financial stability of the system. For older Americans to receive benefits, younger Americans must pay into the system. Without enough younger Americans, the system breaks down.

Munnell examines historical patterns in fertility to determine whether we can expect the current low rates to rebound as the economy improves. Her analysis focuses on the total fertility rate (TFR)–or the number of children a woman will have in her lifetime based on current age-specific birth rates. In 2017, the TFR was 1.76, well below the TFR of 2.0 assumed by the end of the projection period in the Trustees Report.

Historically, the TFR has fallen during recessions and increased during expansions, Munnell’s analysis shows. But this has not happened in recent years. The current low fertility rate is at odds with the ongoing economic expansion. This suggests that it could be a permanent shift. “It seems hard to make the case at this point for a cyclical rebound in the TFR,” Munnell says.

If the nation’s low fertility is the new normal, then the Social Security Trust Fund needs to make changes to the program sooner rather than later. This will “share the burden more equitably across cohorts, restore confidence in the nation’s major retirement program, and give people time to adjust to needed changes,” Munnell concludes.

 

City Population Growth, 2010 to 2017

Between 2010 and 2017, the population of the nation’s 765 largest cities (incorporated places with populations of 50,000 or more in 2017) grew by an average of 7.0 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates. The remainder of the United States grew by a smaller 4.2 percent. Growth is fastest among cities with populations of 500,000 to 999,999, which saw a population gain of 8.5 percent between 2010 and 2017…

City population growth 2010-2017 by city size
1 million or more: 6.54%
500,000 to 999,999: 8.51%
250,000 to 499,999: 7.45%
200,000 to 249,999: 6.15%
150,000 to 199,999: 6.82%
100,000 to 149,999: 6.77%
50,000 to 99,999: 6.73%

Among all cities with populations of 50,000 or more, the annual growth rate since 2010 has slowed from about 1.0 percent per year to a smaller 0.8 percent between 2016 and 2017. At the same time, the annual growth rate of the population outside of large cities has increased, rising from about 0.5 percent per year to 0.7 percent between 2016 and 2017. Widespread recovery from the Great Recession is reducing the economic incentive to move to large cities.

 

The Summer After Kindergarten

How do children spend their summers? Do they play outside, hang out with Grandma, attend a summer camp, visit a zoo? The National Center for Education Statistics took a crack at answering this question in its Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11. The survey interviewed the parents of a nationally representative sample of 2010-11 kindergarteners in the fall of 2011 about their activities during the past summer–the summer after kindergarten. The NCES then compared children’s summer activities by family income and parental education.

Child care: Most children–74 percent–had no regular nonparental care arrangement during the summer after kindergarten. Only 7 percent went to a day care center, and 13 percent were regularly cared for by a relative (often Grandma). There were few differences in these numbers by socioeconomic characteristic.

Playing outside: Most children–76 percent–played outside every day during a typical summer week, parents report. This figure did not vary much by socioeconomic characteristic.

Summer camp: About one in four kindergarteners attended a day camp at some point during the summer. A summer camp experience was much more common for kindergarteners from higher-income (38 percent) than lower-income (7 percent) families. Summer camp was also more likely for children whose parents had a bachelor’s degree (43 percent) than for those whose parents had no more than a high school diploma (6 percent).

Visiting beaches, lakes, rivers, state or national parks: Most children–86 percent–visited these summer destinations. While there were some differences by socioeconomic status, the gap was relatively small. Among the higher-income children, 91 percent enjoyed these activities during the summer. The figure was 81 percent among those whose family incomes were below poverty level.

Visiting educational and entertainment venues: Children from higher-income and better-educated families were more than twice as likely to visit art galleries, museums, or historical sites during the summer after kindergarten. Among those whose parents had a bachelor’s degree, 65 percent had these experiences. Among those whose parents had no more than a high school diploma, the figure was 30 percent. The gap was smaller for zoos or aquariums (73 versus 54 percent), and even smaller for amusement parks (64 versus 55 percent).

 

Decline in Median Earnings of Male College Graduates

The earnings of 25-to-34-year-olds who work full-time are lower today than they were in 2000 in almost every educational attainment group, according to a National Center for Education Statistics‘ analysis of the Current Population Survey.

Young people well know that a college degree guarantees them higher earnings than their less-educated peers. What they may not know is this: a degree doesn’t guarantee them higher earnings than their college-educated counterparts in the past. As of 2016, the median earnings of men aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree who worked full-time were 9 percent below the median earnings of their counterparts in 2000. Today’s college graduates have less money to pay off much larger student loans.

Among all men aged 25 to 34 who work full-time, median earnings fell 2 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation–from $44,880 to $43,970. By educational attainment, only high school dropouts saw their median earnings rise during the time period. The biggest earnings decline occurred among men with only some college, whose median earnings fell 14 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation.

Median earnings of men aged 25 to 34 who work full-time by education, 2016 (and percent change in earnings since 2000; in 2016 dollars)
$28,560 for high school dropouts (+2.8%)
$34,750 for high school graduates only (-13.6%)
$37,980 for those with some college, no degree (-14.3%)
$43,000 for those with an associate’s degree (-11.8%)
$56,960 for those with a bachelor’s degree  (-8.8%)
$71,640 for those with a master’s or higher degree  (-6.4%)

 

Decline in Median Earnings of Female College Graduates

The earnings of 25-to-34-year-olds who work full-time are lower today than they were in 2000 in almost every educational attainment group, according to a National Center for Education Statistics‘ analysis of the Current Population Survey. This is true for both men and women.

In 2016, the median earnings of women aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree who worked full-time were 7 percent below the median earnings of their counterparts in 2000. Young adults know that a college degree guarantees them higher earnings than their less-educated peers. What they don’t know is that a degree does not guarantee higher earnings than their college-educated counterparts in the past. Today’s college graduates have less money to pay off much larger student loans.

Among all women aged 25 to 34 who work full-time, median earnings increased 1 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation–rising from $37,620 to $38,000. But by educational attainment, only high school dropouts saw their median earnings rise during the time period. The biggest earnings decline occurred among women with some college. Their median earnings fell 14 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation.

Median earnings of women aged 25 to 34 who work full-time by education, 2016 (and percent change in earnings since 2000; in 2016 dollars)
$21,900 for high school dropouts (+5.0%)
$28,000 for high school graduates only (-7.2%)
$29,980 for those with some college, no degree (-13.8%)
$31,870 for those with an associate’s degree (-12.0%)
$44,990 for those with a bachelor’s degree (-7.5%)
$57,690 for those with a master’s or higher degree (-0.5%)

 

84% of Americans Are Digitally Literate

The 84 percent majority of Americans are digitally literate, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report of the results of a survey of Americans aged 16 to 65. Only 16 percent of the population is not digitally literate. The survey, entitled The International Assessment of Adult Competencies, was sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It assessed the computer skills of a nationally representative sample of Americans, determining how many were able to use computers “to solve real-world problems such as purchasing goods or services, finding health information, and managing personal information and business finances.”

The United States was just one of the 19 countries whose computer skills were assessed by the OECD. With a digital literacy rate of 84 percent, the U.S. beat the 19-country average of 77 percent. Among the countries, the Netherlands had the largest percentage of digitally literate (89 percent) and Poland had the smallest (50 percent). The U.S. ranks lower in digital literacy than Scandinavian countries, about the same as Canada, England, and Germany, and higher than Australia, Austria, Korea, or Japan.

Seventy-four percent of Americans aged 18 to 65 use a computer at work, the survey found, and 81 percent use a computer in everyday life. Of course, digital literacy varies by demographic characteristic. Here are some of the biggest differences…

Education:Fully 95 percent of 18-to-65-year-olds with an associate’s degree or more education are digitally literate versus 83 percent of high school graduates and 59 percent of high school dropouts.

Age: The youngest adults are the most literate. Fully 92 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds are digitally literate. The figure falls with age to a low of 72 percent among 55-to-65-year-olds.

Race and Hispanic origin: Only 65 percent of Hispanics are digitally literate. The figure is 78 percent among Blacks and 89 percent among non-Hispanic Whites. Asians were not identified separately but included in an “other” category along with American Indians and the multiracial. The digital literacy rate of the “other” group was 87 percent.

 

Only 30% Use Desktop Computers

Fully 78 percent of Americans aged 3 or older used the internet as of November 2017, according to the latest government survey of computer and internet use–a supplement to the Current Population Survey, sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The survey reveals ongoing changes in how we access the internet.

Desktop computers and broadband connections were once the primary way we went online. That’s no longer the case. Today, the number of households connected to the internet through mobile data plans (88.9 million) surpasses the number connected to the internet through wired broadband service (85.3 million). The use of desktop computers has fallen behind smartphones, laptops, and even tablet computers.

Percent using computing device in 2017 (and 2011)
64% use a smartphone (43%)
46% use a laptop (43%)
34% use a smart TV (14%)
32% use a tablet (6%)
30% use a desktop computer (45%)
8% use a wearable device (NA)

As the variety of computer devices has grown over the years, more Americans are using multiple devices. In 2017, 62 percent of Americans reported used at least two different types of computing devices, up from 52 percent in 2013. The percentage who used three or more devices climbed from 32 to 42 percent during those years.

 

Teens and Tech: 2018 Update

Every few years Pew Research Center surveys the use of technology by teenagers aged 13 to 17. Here are some of the latest findings…

  • 95% of teens have a smartphone or access to one.
  • 88% of teens have a desktop or laptop computer at home.
  • 45% of teens say they are online almost constantly.
  • 97% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls play video games.
  • 85% of teens say they use YouTube, the most popular online platform.
  • 31% of teens say social media is mostly positive, and among them the largest share says social media allows them to connect with friends and family.
  • 24% of teens say social media is mostly negative, and among them the largest share says social media allows bullying and rumors to spread.

 

The Gig Workforce in 2017…more to come

If you think gig workers are a growing share of the U.S. labor force, the results of the latest survey of gig work appear to contradict the notion. According to the long-awaited Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ 2017 estimate of the gig workforce, measured through a special supplement to the Current Population Survey, there has been no growth or even decline since 2005 in the proportion of American workers who, in their main job, are what the BLS calls “contingent or alternative.” These workers include independent contractors, on-call, temporary, and contract workers, as well as those working short stints (contingent). This is the first update of the BLS’ contingent and alternative worker survey since 2005 (pre-Uber!), and the finding of little to no growth doesn’t make sense. What’s the explanation?

Here is the explanation: a whole lot of alternative workers are missing from these latest counts. A highlighted box in the news release notes…

“Four new questions were added to the May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement. These questions were designed to identify individuals who found short tasks or jobs through a mobile app or website and were paid through the same app or website. BLS continues to evaluate the data from these new questions; the data do not appear in this news release [emphasis added]. When available, additional information will be at www.bls.gov/cps/electronically-mediated-employment.htm. Findings from this research will be published in a Monthly Labor Review article by September 30, 2018.”
We will have to wait a bit longer for the much-anticipated official measure of the real size of the gig workforce.

 

How Many Would Go into Space?

Americans are a timid bunch. Personally, most would not want medical treatments so that they could live to be at least 120, most don’t want to ride in a driverless car, and most don’t want to go into space.

Only 42 percent of people aged 18 or older are definitely or probably interested in orbiting earth in a spacecraft, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The 58 percent majority is definitely or probably not interested in going into space. Why not ride a rocket into space? The biggest concern is cost, second is fear, and third is age/health problems. Most Millennials would go into space. Most in the older generations would not.

Percent who definitely/probably would be interested in orbiting earth in a spacecraft
Millennials: 63%
Generation Xers: 39%
Boomers or older: 27%

Some Millennials may get their chance to go into space, according to exactly half of the public. Fifty percent of Americans think people will routinely travel in space as tourists by 2068.

 

CDC Investigates Rise in Suicides

The CDC’s report on the rising number of suicides in the United States was released on June 8, just days after Kate Spade committed suicide and the same day Anthony Bourdain took his own life. The government’s in-depth analysis of suicide’s potential causal factors sheds light on just how difficult it will be to stem the rising tide.

In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans killed themselves, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. The annual number of suicides has grown by almost 30 percent since 1999, the CDC reports. The suicide rate has increased in every age group under age 75 and has grown in most states. Confronted with these facts, this timely CDC report examines 2015 data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, in which 27 states participated. Information from friends and family, reported to law enforcement at the time of death, are part of the database. The findings are not encouraging…

  • Among those who committed suicide in the 27 reporting states, the 54 percent majority did not have a known mental health condition.
  • Among those without a mental health condition, only 22.4 percent had disclosed their intention to commit suicide. Even among those with a known mental health condition, only 23.5 percent had disclosed their intention to commit suicide.
  • Only 28 percent of those who committed suicide had problematic substance abuse problems–a possible indicator of suicide risk.
  • Among suicide victims with known mental health problems, more than half were in treatment at the time of death.

What can be done to save lives? In an attempt to answer that question, the CDC examined the problems of suicide victims, with information provided by friends and family about troubles in the victim’s life. The most commonly reported issues were intimate partner problems (27 percent), physical health problems (22 percent), school problems (20 percent), and job/financial problems (16 percent). These troubles are not unique to suicide victims, of course, which is why one of the CDC’s recommendations is the suggestion that we teach better “coping and problem-solving skills to manage everyday stressors and prevent future relationship problems, especially early in life.”

Most of the family and friends of suicide victims may never know why their loved one chose to take his or her own life. Only one-third of suicide victims leave a note, the CDC reports.

 

16% of Americans Provide Financial Support

A substantial 16 percent of Americans aged 18 or older provide financial support to people in other households, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s 5th annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking. Another 10 percent receive financial support. Here are the percentages by age…

Provided financial support to other households, 2017
Aged 18 to 29: 10%
Aged 30 to 39: 12%
Aged 40 to 49: 20%
Aged 50 to 59: 23%
Aged 60-plus: 16%

Received financial support from other households, 2017
Aged 18 to 29: 24%
Aged 30 to 39: 12%
Aged 40 to 49: 8%
Aged 50 to 59: 4%
Aged 60-plus: 4%

Most of the exchange is between parents and children. “Parents were among the providers for just over 6 in 10 support recipients, including 8 in 10 of those under age 30,” according to the report. “Additionally, adult children are support providers for over half of people over age 60 who are receiving some assistance.” Among those aged 18 to 29 who received support, one-third were getting help with educational expenses or student loan payments.

 

Do You Want to Be Rich? Only 61% Say Yes

A surprisingly modest 61 percent of Americans say they would want to be rich, according to a Gallup survey. Younger adults are most likely to yearn for wealth. They are also the ones most likely to think they will be rich someday…

Percent who would want to be rich (and percent who think it’s likely they will be rich)
Aged 18 to 29: 67% (52%)
Aged 30 to 49: 69% (39%)
Aged 50 to 64: 59% (23%)
Aged 65-plus: 44% (10%)

Note: Percentages based on those who do not consider themselves rich.

Democrats are as likely as Republicans to want to be rich (60%), but they do not see eye to eye on another question. Fully 81 percent of Republicans think the U.S. benefits from having a class of rich people. Only 43 percent of Democrats agree.

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

 

Percentage of people who live in the same city, town, or county they lived in at age 16 by educational attainment…
Not a college graduate: 42%
Bachelor’s degree or more: 26%

 

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BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW
Married couples as a share of households by generation…
Millennials: 41%
Gen Xers: 56%
Boomers: 53%
Older: 39%