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The Great Recession Spending Decline
The economy seems to be perking up a bit lately, but the Great Recession pushed us into such a deep hole that we have a lot of climbing to do before we get back to level ground.
Take a look at what the Great Recession did to household spending. The average household spent $48,109 in 2010. After adjusting for inflation, that was 8 percent less than in 2006--the year overall household spending peaked. How does this Great Recession spending decline compare with spending declines in the past?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been collecting annual household spending data since 1984, a time period that includes several recessions. Nothing compares with the Great Recession. During 28 years of household spending data collection, there have been year-over-year declines 12 times, which is a lot. Downturns in household spending are not exceptional. But three things are exceptional about the Great Recession decline:
- The Great Recession spending decline is four years old, the longest spending decline on record. No previous decline lasted more than two years.
- The Great Recession spending decline includes the largest single-year decline ever recorded (a -3.5 percent drop between 2009 and 2010, after adjusting for inflation). Previously, the largest single-year decline occurred between 1989 and 1990 (-3.2 percent).
- The Great Recession spending decline is getting increasingly worse, starting with a small 0.3 percent slip between 2006 and 2007, followed successively by declines of 2.1, 2.5, then the record-setting 3.5 percent.
The good news is that, statistically speaking, we are due for an uptick in household spending. The bad news is that, realistically speaking, we may not get one.
New Homes Prices Plunge
$225,800: That's the median sales price of all new single-family homes sold in 2011, according to the Census Bureau--16 percent below the 2007 peak of $268,900, after adjusting for inflation. Here is a look at 2011 median prices by region, along with their inflation-adjusted percent change from the year prices peaked in each region:
Northeast: $322,600 in 2011
Down 16% from 2006 peak of $386,100
Midwest: $201,000 in 2011
Down 20% from 2005 peak of $249,800
South: $210,300 in 2011
Down 11% from 2007 peak of $236,200
West: $255,400 in 2011
Down 32% from 2006 peak of $376,800
Nationally, the number of new single-family homes sold in 2011 fell to an all-time low of 302,000 (with data going back to 1963). The 2011 sales figures were at all-time lows in the Northeast and West, and they tied all-time lows in the Midwest (tied with 2010) and South (tied with 1966).
Housing Bust Equalizes Prices
Everyone knows housing is a bargain in Ohio, where real estate prices are often well below $100 per square foot. Thanks to the housing bust, prices in many other areas of the country are an even bigger bargain. A new analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland shows that housing prices in Atlanta and Charlotte are now on a par with prices in Ohio's metropolitan areas. In Phoenix, Orlando, and Tampa, median sales price per square foot is even lower than in Cleveland or Akron.
Middle Age Stress
Strange things are happening to the nation's mental health. Typically, young adults are the most stressed out. Their life is in turmoil as they go to school, look for a job, find a marriage partner, and move from place to place. Now people aged 45 to 54 are the most distressed, thanks to growing economic uncertainty (starting well before the Great Recession).
In 2010, a substantial 12.2 percent of 45-to-54-year-olds reported experiencing 14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month, according to the CDC. Let's put that number in perspective: one in eight 45-to-54-year-olds feels like they are losing it as often as not. That figure is up from 10.6 percent in 2000 and 8.9 percent in 1993 (the earliest data available).
Other age groups are in trouble too. In fact, more than 11 percent of people ranging in age from 18 to 64 are in mental anguish at least half the time. Among people aged 65 or older, frequent mental distress afflicts a smaller 6.3 to 7.4 percent.
Nonmetros Are Losing People
Nonmetropolitan areas of the United States lost people between 2000 and 2010, their first loss in 30 years. In 2010, only 50 million people remained in the nation's nonmetro areas--down from 55 million in 2000. The last time the nonmetropolitan population declined was in the 1970s.
Non-Hispanic Whites Decline in 15 States
In the nation as a whole, the non-Hispanic white population grew by only 1.2 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to census data. Behind the tiny increase is the fact that non-Hispanic whites declined in 15 states during those years. Here are the states with shrinking numbers of non-Hispanic whites, along with the size of the decline:
- California: -5.4%
- Connecticut: -3.5%
- Illinois: -3.0%
- Iowa: -0.3%
- Kansas: -0.2%
- Louisiana: -2.1%
- Maryland: -3.9%
- Massachusetts: -4.1%
- Michigan: -3.0%
- Mississippi: -0.3%
- New Jersey: -6.2%
- New York: -3.9%
- Ohio: -1.9%
- Pennsylvania: -2.2%
- Rhode Island: -6.3%
The Fall of Print
Americans under age 45 are more likely to get their news from radio than printed newspapers, according to the General Social Survey. When asked from which source they get most of their information about current events, people under age 45 are more likely to say radio (10 percent) than newspapers (8 percent). Television is number one (48 percent), following by the Internet (31 percent).
Slippage or Semantics?
Also from the General Social Survey, take a look at the percentage of Americans who call themselves middle class, by generation:
- Older (65+): 60%
- Boomers: 41%
- Gen Xers: 40%
- Millennials: 36%
Construction Job Gains--and Losses
Some of the fastest growing jobs during the next decade will be in construction, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' newoccupational projections. The number of jobs in the Construction and Extraction occupational group will grow by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020--much faster than the 14 percent growth forecast for the labor force as a whole. Among the jobs projected to grow the fastest are carpentry helpers, brick masons, iron and rebar workers, and glaziers.
But there's a catch. The projected growth will not make up for the jobs lost during the Great Recession. The 7.7 million Construction and Extraction jobs forecast for 2020 will be 559,000 less than the 8.3 million of 2006. The good news is that they will be 1.4 million more than in 2010.
Real (U-6) Unemployment by State, 2011
There's the official unemployment rate (called U-3, which includes only people willing and able to work and who have looked for a job in the past 4 weeks) and there's the real unemployment rate (called U-6). The U-6 unemployment rate includes the officially unemployed, plus discouraged workers (people who have given up looking for a job), plus marginally attached workers (those who looked for a job in the past year but not in the past 4 weeks), plus people employed part-time because they can't find full-time work.
In 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the official (U-3) unemployment rate was 8.9 percent. The real (U-6) unemployment rate was a much higher 15.9 percent. Here are the five states with the highest real unemployment rates in 2011...
- Nevada: 22.7
- California: 21.1
- Michigan: 18.8
- Rhode Island: 18.6
- South Carolina: 18.2
Voting by Income
Voting rates don't just rise with income, they rise in lockstepwith income. Overall, 59.7 percent of citizens aged 18 or older voted in the 2008 presidential election. Here are the 2008 voting rates by family income, according to Census Bureau data...
- Under $30,000: 54.0%
- $30,000-$49,999: 63.3%
- $50,000-$74,999: 70.9%
- $75,000-$99,999: 76.4%
- $100,000-$149,999: 78.4%
- $150,000 or more: 81.6%
Burrowing even deeper into the data, the lowest voting rate is among 18-to-24-year-olds with family incomes below $30,000 (41.5 percent). The highest voting rate is among 65-to-74-year-olds with incomes of $100,000 or more (85.8 percent). Voting rates aren't everything, however. Numbers count. Despite the difference in voting rates, young low-income voters edged out old high-income voters at the polls, 1.7 million to 1.3 million.
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 Cheryl Russell firstname.lastname@example.org.