American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
January 2007

The Seven Trends of 2007

1. Hot Trends: THE SEVEN TRENDS OF 2007
2. Q & A: DO AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING?
3. Cool Research Links: PROFILE OF CONGRESS
4. Winter 2006/2007 Books by New Strategist: The all new AMERICAN SEXUAL BEHAVIOR, and updates of BEST CUSTOMERS, HOUSEHOLD SPENDING, and the popular WHO’S BUYING REPORTS

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Sixty-five percent of American households pay for health insurance, spending out-of-pocket an average of $2,056 a year for coverage.

1. HOT TRENDS

The Seven Trends of 2007

Demographic trends usually move at a glacial pace. Several factors have quickened that pace lately. Globalization has boosted immigration and business competition, transforming our population and economy. The aging of the baby-boom generation is also hurrying demographic change as boomers reach one of life’s most important milestonesold age. Here’s how the trends will play out this year.

Trend 1. Celebrating the big 6-0–or not. The first boomers turned sixty last year, so what is the big deal? In fact, 2007 is the year when boomers invade the sixtysomething age group in earnest. The number of people celebrating their sixtieth birthday will jump by more than 600,000 this year, the largest increase in any single age group. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is already sounding the alarm, warning the U.S. Congress that current debt levels coupled with an oversized generation just one year away from collecting Social Security (at age 62 for early retirees) threatens the economy.

Trend 2. Punching the time clock. The labor force participation rate of men aged 65 or older will surpass 20 percent for the first time since 1977–a level of participation not seen among the elderly in a generation. Behind the increase are the private sector’s substitution of defined- contribution retirement plans for defined-benefit pension plans and the elimination of health insurance for early retirees. Among workers aged 55 or older, a substantial 38 percent do not expect to retire until age 66 or older, according to the Employee Benefit Retirement Institute’s 2006 Retirement Confidence Survey. Ten years ago only 20 percent planned to delay retirement into their late sixties.

Trend 3. Affluence will peak–enjoy it while you can. This is it folks. The percentage of households with incomes of $100,000 or more will climb to a new high during the next few years, boosted by growing numbers of dual-earner, empty-nest baby-boom couples. Bask in the moment, because it is all downhill from here. As boomers retire, the figure will drift downward and the middle-income ranks will grow.

Trend 4. Putting the brakes on immigration. More than 1 million legal immigrants will come to the United States this year, all but guaranteeing a net gain of nearly 10 million immigrants during the first decade of the twenty-first century–a record number. And those are just the legal immigrants. Another 400,000 illegals also enter the country each year, according to Department of Homeland Security estimates, making the immigration issue not just an election platform, but a soul-searching examination of who we are.

Trend 5. Living alone will rise to the top. Two milestones in living arrangements have been noted with much fanfare recently–the married couple share of households fell below 50 percent in 2005, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (note to number- crunchers: according to the Census Bureau’s 2005 Current Population Survey, this threshold has not yet been crossed), and the percentage of American women living with their husbands fell below the 50 percent mark as well. This year we may reach another lifestyle milestone when living alone will become the most common type of living arrangement in the United States.

Trend 6. Women will surpass men in educational attainment. Depending on where you draw the line, this threshold has already been crossed. Among people aged 25 or older, women are more likely than men to be high school graduates. They are also more likely than men to have some college experience. Any day now, women will reach the final frontier as the proportion with a college degree surpasses the figure for men. Younger women are already there: Among women under age 45, an impressive 33 percent has a college degree compared with a smaller 28 percent of men.

Trend 7. Cell phone service will overtake residential phone service. The younger generations are leading the way. As of 2005, householders under age 35 spent much more on cell phone service than residential phone service. But the average household still lagged behind the younger ones, devoting $455 to cell phone service and $570 to residential phone service. Between 2000 and 2005, average household spending on cell phone service more than doubled, after adjusting for inflation, while spending on residential phone service fell by 43 percent. At that rate of change, cell phones are destined to become the number-one communications appliance sometime this year.

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

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Black households are the best customers of residential phone service, spending 16 percent more than the average household on this item.

2. Q & A

Do Americans believe in global warming?

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2006 was the warmest year on record in the United States. Global warming is a scientific fact, but what is causing the warming and how much does the public worry about it? A recent survey by The Washington Post/ABC News (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/ postpoll_012007.htm) shows the public split on how much it worries about global warming, with 49 percent saying they worry a “great deal/good amount” and another 49 percent saying they worry “hardly/not at all.”

A Pew Research Center (http://people-press.org/) survey shows that most of the public believes global warming is occurring. Overall 70 percent of Americans say there is solid evidence of warming. There is disagreement over the cause of the warming, however. The largest share of the public–41 percent–thinks global warming is due to human activity. A smaller 21 percent says it is due to natural patterns rather than human activity, and the remaining 8 percent of respondents say they believe the earth is warming but do not know why.

Only 20 percent of the public does not believe in global warming. Another 10 percent cannot decide whether the earth is warming or not.

Americans are less concerned about global warming than the citizens of other nations, according to a Pew survey taken last year as part of its Global Attitudes Project. Only 19 percent of Americans are personally concerned “a great deal” about global warming, a smaller share than in Great Britain (26 percent), France (46 percent), Germany (30 percent), Russia (34 percent), Nigeria (45 percent), India (65 percent) or Pakistan (31 percent). In China, concern is almost as low as in the United States, at 20 percent. The United States and China are the two biggest producers of greenhouse gases.

If you have any questions or comments about the above Q & A, e-mail New Strategist at mailto:demographics@newstrategist.com.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

During an average week, 7 percent of households buy wine for home consumption, spending an average of $26 on the purchase.

3. COOL RESEARCH LINK

To keep up-to-date on ever-changing demographics and lifestyles, check out this useful web address.

A Profile of the 109th Congress
http://www.senate.gov/ reference/resources/pdf/RS22007.pdf
How do the demographics of Congress compare with those of the average American? This report, prepared by the Congressional Research Service, will tell you. It examines the age, occupation, education, religion, sex, race, Hispanic origin, nativity status, and military service of House and Senate members. The Senate has never been older, according to the report, with an average age of 60. House members are aged 55, on average, which also may be a record high (data on the age of House members has been collected only since 1907). The 109th Congress has a record number of women (85), blacks (43), and Hispanics (30), but the minority and female share is still far from representative of the population as a whole.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Percentage of women aged 15 to 44 who think it is OK for an unmarried woman to have a child: 70.

4. NEW FOR WINTER 2006/2007

NEW TITLE: American Sexual Behavior: Demographics of Sexual Activity, Fertility, and Childbearing is a groundbreaking new title that brings you the facts about reproductive health and family formation in the United States. Its eleven chapters cover sexual initiation and orientation, AIDS and STDs, cohabitation and marriage, fertility and infertility, pregnancy, births, caring for children, and much more. ($89.95; ISBN 978-1-933588-09-4)

NEW EDITION: The fourth edition of Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand reveals the best customers for hundreds of products and services ranging from alcoholic beverages to gasoline, bedroom linens, and cell phone service. It identifies which households spend the most on a product or service and which control the largest share of spending. ($89.95; ISBN 978-1-933588-06-3)

NEW EDITION: The eleventh edition of the annual Household Spending: Who Spends How Much on What gives you detailed analyses of consumer spending on hundreds of products and services by the demographics that count–age, income, household type, region of residence, race and Hispanic origin, and education. The book begins with an overview chapter, then goes on to examine spending on apparel, entertainment, financial products and services, food and beverages, gifts, health care, household operations, shelter and utilities, transportation, personal care, reading, education, and tobacco. ($94.95; ISBN 978-1-933588-05-6)

NEW EDITIONS: The updated Who’s Buying Series, which is based on the new eleventh edition of Household Spending, gives you even more demographic 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 spending picture, you also get “who are the best customers” analyses of the data.

  • Who’s Buying Apparel, 2nd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-08-7)
  • Who’s Buying Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Beverages, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-11-7)
  • Who’s Buying Entertainment, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-12-4)
  • Who’s Buying Groceries, 4th ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-13-1)
  • Who’s Buying Health Care, 3rd ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-14-8)
  • Who’s Buying Household Furnishings, Services, and Supplies, 4th ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-15-5)
  • Who’s Buying Information, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-08-7)
  • Who’s Buying for Pets, 4th ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-17-9)
  • Who’s Buying by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2nd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-18-6)
  • Who’s Buying at Restaurants and Carry-Outs, 4th ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-19-3)
  • Who’s Buying Transportation, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-20-9)
  • Who’s Buying for Travel, 3rd ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-21-6)
  • Who’s Buying: Executive Summary of Household Spending, 2nd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-22-3)

You can order online (where you can also see tables of contents and sample pages) at http://www.newstrategist.com. Or call toll free 800/848-0842 (or 607/273-0913), fax your order to 607/277-5009, or mail your order to New Strategist Publications, P.O. Box 242, Ithaca, NY 14851.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Households in the South spend 52 percent more than the average household on termite and pest control products and services.