American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
September 2005

The Demographics of Disaster

1. Hot Trends: THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF DISASTER
2. Cool Research Link: AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY
3. Valuable Research Titles Available from New Strategist: AMERICAN
GENERATIONS, AMERICAN HEALTH, AMERICAN MARKETPLACE, AMERICANS AND THEIR
HOMES

4. Who’s Buying Reports: GET THE BIG PICTURE ON HOUSEHOLD
SPENDING WITH
A DETAILED SPENDING REPORT ON PETS, RESTAURANTS, TRAVEL, AND MORE

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

One-third of Louisiana residents are black. In the city of New Orleans,
68 percent of residents are black.

1. HOT TRENDS

The Demographics of Disaster

The demographics of those in the path of hurricane Katrina help explain the enormous and
unfolding tragedy. A death toll in the thousands could have been predicted long before the
storm’s landfall. And you do not have to be a meteorologist or an engineer to figure it out.
Anyone with an Internet connection could have examined the local demographics of New Orleans
and warned of the catastrophe to come.

To tap into the local demographics requires only a quick visit to the Census Bureau’s
American Community Survey (ACS) site at http:// www.census.gov/acs/www/. The ACS, which has replaced the census long form, collects
data on the social and economic characteristics of Americans every year. The survey offers up- to-date detailed information about local areas. By retrieving one of the survey’s local data
profiles, the reasons for the horror in New Orleans become apparent. The city’s demographics,
coupled with its coastal location and exacerbated by its below-sea-level elevation, made it a
bull’s-eye for tragedy.

Facts mined from the American Community Survey provide answers to the question being
posed by some, “Why didn’t they leave?”

Why, indeed. Let’s review the facts:

They had no cars. An eye-popping 21 percent of households in the city of New Orleans do
not have a vehicle available to them. Without a vehicle, a desperate 96,900 people were trapped
in the city as the hurricane approached.

They had no money. Even if rental cars had been available (and they were not), many
residents of New Orleans could not afford one and probably did not have the necessary credit
cards to secure one. Twenty-one percent of New Orleans residents are poor, far above the 13
percent poverty rate among all Americans. The $28,645 median household income in the city of
New Orleans is just 66 percent of the $43,564 national average.

They had nowhere to go. Of the 451,000 people living in New Orleans,
the 51 percent majority are children under age 18, women heading
families without a spouse, or people who live alone. For many, support
networks are limited. Seventy-nine percent of New Orleans residents
were born in Louisiana (much higher than the 60 percent share among all
Americans who were born in the state they presently live in). Their
friends and relatives are probably also Louisiana residents and could
offer little protection from the hurricane nor can they offer refuge
now.

When Mayor Nagin of New Orleans called for the mandatory evacuation of
the city before the hurricane struck, hundreds of thousands of people
fled. Most of those who remained behind did so not by choice, but by
circumstance. They are disproportionately the uneducated and the poor.
While many went to shelters, many others rode out the storm in their
homes, hoping they could survive the onslaught. And perhaps they
weren’t all that crazy for thinking so. Seventy-eight percent of
housing units in the city of New Orleans were built before the
legendary hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast in 1969. Until Katrina
arrived, Camille was the mother of all hurricanes. After enduring
Camille, many may have assumed their home could withstand whatever
Katrina had to offer. Unfortunately, they were wrong.

By Cheryl Russell, editorial director, New Strategist Publications
If you have any questions or comments about the above editorial, e-mail
New Strategist at demographics@newstrategist.com.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

With 1.3 million residents, New Orleans ranks 40th among the nation’s
50 largest metropolitan areas.

2. COOL RESEARCH LINK

To keep up-to-date on ever-changing American demographics and
lifestyles, check out this useful web site:

http://www.census.gov/acs/www/ The
Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), accessible at this
address and replacing the census long form, updates local and state
demographics every year. This modus is a great improvement over the
ten-year wait between censuses for detailed, local-area data. The ACS
is a broad and deep resource for those looking for detailed social and
economic data at the national, state, county, and local level. Click on
“Data Profiles” to access ready-made reports that reveal the
demographics of geographies ranging from the nation to selected
counties and metropolitan areas. For those willing to dig a little
deeper into the ACS, the Census Bureau’s (admittedly confusing)
American Factfinder gateway allows you to create and download custom
tables that pull together the latest data (generally, from 2004,
although some local area data are not yet available for that year) on
population by race and Hispanic origin by metropolitan area, for
example, or the number of people who do not speak English at home by
state. To make custom tables, go to http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en. At the
bottom of the page click on “American Community Survey,” then on the
link “American Community Survey Data Sets,” then on “2004 American
Community Survey” or an earlier year. The data options will appear to
the right, allowing you to pull together the information you need. In
an era of increasingly limited government resources, the American
Community Survey is a welcome new resource for researchers everywhere.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

During the average physician visit, patients spend a median of 14.7
minutes with the doctor.

3. VALUABLE RESEARCH TITLES AVAILABLE FROM
NEW STRATEGIST

Affording you quick and easy access to the facts you need is the goal
of the books available from New Strategist. Order online at http://www.newstrategist.com, call toll free at 800/848-0842, or
fax
your order to 607/277-5009.

AMERICAN GENERATIONS: Who They Are and How They Live, 5th ed. American
Generations is a superior resource for anyone who wants to quickly and
easily compare and contrast the five living generations–Millennial,
Generation X, Baby Boom, Swing, and World War II. Among the many new
tables in the book are proprietary estimates by New Strategist on the
education, incomes, living arrangements, and labor force status of each
generation. (520 pgs., hardcover, ISBN 1-88507069-1) $89.95

AMERICAN HEALTH: Demographics and Spending of Health Care Consumers.
American Health focuses on health care consumers rather than industry
statistics and reveals future market and policy needs. Presenting more
than twice as many tables as contained in the popular “Health, United
States,” American Health’s 14 chapters examine addictions, aging,
alternative medicine, attitudes toward health care, births, health care
coverage and cost, deaths, disability, diseases and conditions, health
care visits, hospital care, mental health, sexual attitudes and
behavior, and weight and exercise–the whole gamut of our physical and
mental well-being. (520 pgs., hardcover, ISBN 1-885070-74-8) $89.95

THE AMERICAN MARKETPLACE: Demographics and Spending Patterns, 7th ed.
The Wall Street Journal said it best when it wrote, “The American
Marketplace should be on your bookshelf.” Designed for easy use, The
American Marketplace gives you a population profile of the United
States in one handy volume. New to this edition are the latest Census
Bureau population projections, a first look at spending by Asian
households, new data on spending by households with incomes of $150,000
or more, and interesting new numbers on the demographics of retirement
savings and 401(k)s. (544 pgs., hardcover, ISBN 1-885070-60-8) $89.95

AMERICANS AND THEIR HOMES: Demographics of Homeownership, 2nd ed.
Americans and Their Homes, the first edition of which was published in
1998, is back in an expanded second edition to give you a detailed look
at the demographics of who owns their home and what those homes are
like. You will discover who homeowners are by such useful demographic
characteristics as age, income, household type, race, Hispanic origin,
and geographical residence. You will also learn about their
homes–heating, cooling, kitchen and laundry equipment, purchase price
and value, housing costs, and much, much more. (424 pgs., hardcover,
ISBN 1-885070-86-1) $89.95

Go to http://www.newstrategist.com to see
detailed tables of contents
and to order downloads or hardcopy.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

The median size of new single-family homes grew 12 percent between 1990
and 2003, to 2,125 square feet.

4. GET THE BIG PICTURE ON HOUSEHOLD
SPENDING

The Who’s Buying series of reports, which are based on the ninth
edition of Household Spending: Who Spends How Much on What, bring you
even more detail about how much Americans spend by the demographics
that count–age, income, household type, race and Hispanic origin,
region of residence, and education. To round out the picture, each
report also presents who-are-the-best-customers analyses of the data,
showing at a glance the demographics of household spending product by
product.

The Who’s Buying series includes:

  • Who’s Buying Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Beverages
  • Who’s Buying at Restaurants and Carry-Outs, 2nd ed.
  • Who’s Buying Entertainment
  • Who’s Buying for Pets, 2nd ed.
  • Who’s Buying for Travel
  • Who’s Buying Groceries, 2nd ed.
  • Who’s Buying Health Care
  • Who’s Buying Household Furnishings, Services, and Supplies, 2nd ed.
  • Who’s Buying Information Products and Services
  • Who’s Buying Transportation

If you need the big picture for items ranging from wine to cell phones,
from pet food to sofas, go to http://www.newstrategist.com to see
detailed tables of contents and to order downloads or hardcopy.

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Among Americans aged 30 to 34, 20 percent are foreign-born.