American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
July 2011

50 Facts about the Average American

2. New Reference Tools:  American Homes, American Marketplace, Who We Are: Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics

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

1. Hot Trends 

50 Facts about the Average American


It is painfully clear that the nation’s politicians and business leaders are not demographers. If they were, they would not be so far off the mark in their positions and policies, products and promotions. Simply put, they do not have a feel for the average American.


Like most of the public, politicians and business leaders get the bulk of their information about the population from television shows and news stories–a frightening thought since both grossly distort the characteristics of the average American. From reading business stories in the news, for example, you might think the average American actually owns stock (wrong) or runs a business rather than works for one.


There is no single source of information on the average American. To know him (or her), you have to follow the demographics. To that end, here is a sampling of just a few of the characteristics of the average American (adult) or household.


1. The average American makes $735/week.

Current Population Survey


2. The average American has $34 in his/her wallet.

Survey of Consumer Payment Choice


3. The average American spends $69 a day.



4. The average American has a job (58%).

Bureau of Labor Statistics


5. The average American thinks hard work is the way to get ahead (70%).

General Social Survey


6. The average American thinks the government’s number-one priority should be to help keep and create jobs in America (51%).

Economic Mobility Project


7. The average American has employer-provided health insurance (56%).

Current Population Survey


8. The average American household spends $3,126 a year out-of-pocket on health care.

Consumer Expenditure Survey


9. The average American has a landline telephone (70%).

National Health Interview Survey


10. The average American has a cell phone (87%), but does not own a smart phone (only 35% own one).

National Health Interview SurveyPew Research Center


11. The average American says the economy/jobs will be the top issue in the 2012 election (60%).

Kaiser Polls


12. The average American has less than $100,000 in savings (54%).



13. The average American does not directly own any stock. (Only 19% of households own stock directly.)

Survey of Consumer Finances


14. The average American household is $75,600 in debt (including the mortgage).

Survey of Consumer Finances


15. The average American has been to college (56%), but does not have a college degree.

Current Population Survey


16. The average American owns a desktop (59%) and/or laptop computer (52%).

Pew Internet & American Life Project


17. The average American used the Internet today (59%).

Pew Internet & American Life Project


18. The average American says he/she is in very good or excellent health (56%).

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System


19. The average American is overweight (63%).

National Health Interview Survey


20. The average American eats at least two snacks a day (65%).



21. The average American drinks alcohol regularly (52%).

National Health Interview Survey


22. The average American goes to the doctor at least twice a year (65%).

National Health Interview Survey


23. The average American is taking at least one prescription drug.

Health, United States


24. The average American sometimes or often has trouble sleeping (55%).

General Social Survey


25. The average American is currently married (51%).

Families and Living Arrangements


26. The average American has never divorced (only 21% have ever divorced).

Survey of Income and Program Participation


27. The average American lives in one of the top 50 metropolitan areas (54%).

2010 census


28. The average American is a homeowner (65%).

2010 census


29. The average American lives in an 1,800 square foot house.

American Housing Survey


30. The average American lives in a house built before 1975.

American Housing Survey


31. The average American believes the effects of global warming have already begun or soon will (53%).



32. The average American household is air-conditioned (87%).

American Housing Survey


33. The average American watches 2 hours and 49 minutes of television a day.

American Time Use Survey


34. The average American has two or more children (57%).

General Social Survey


35. The average American favors spanking children, if necessary (69%).

General Social Survey


36. The average American was born in-state (52%).

American Community Survey


37. The average American’s parents were born in the United States (78%)

General Social Survey


38. The average American’s grandparents (all four) were born in the United States (59%).

General Social Survey


39. The average American household owns two vehicles.

Consumer Expenditure Survey


40. The average American household owns at least one pet (62%).

American Pet Products Association


41. The average American pays his/her credit card bill in full each month (54%).

National Bureau of Economic Research


42. The average American household has a net worth of $96,000.

Survey of Consumer Finances


43. The average American believes in God without a doubt (59%).

General Social Survey


44. The average American believes in evolution (56%).

General Social Survey


45. The average American favors the death penalty (68%).

General Social Survey


46. The average American often or always recycles (64%).

General Social Survey


47. The average American wants the government to spend more on education (74%), health care (60%), and the environment (60%).

National Opinion Research Center


48. The average American is worried about being able to maintain his/her standard of living (58%).



49. The average American believes the honesty and ethical standards of Congress are low (57%).

Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics


50. The average American does not know which political party controls the House of Representatives (62%).

Pew Research Center


By Cheryl Russell, editorial director, New Strategist Publications. For more about the the average American, see the 10th edition of The American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns, available in hardcopy or as a PDF download with links to Excel files of each data table. If you have questions or comments about the above editorial, contact


The average American is a woman (52%).

Source:  The American Marketplace 

2. New Reference Tools

Get To Know the Average American

Here are five all new and expanded, one-stop resources for understanding American consumers–vital, cost-effective information in these economically uncertain times. All are available as hold-in-your-hand books or pdf downloads with links to Excel spreadsheets.

· The American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns, 10th ed.

Quick and easy access is the goal of the new 10th edition of The American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns, your reliable alternative to the threatened Statistical Abstract. Designed for convenience, The American Marketplace draws on scores of government sources to give you a population profile of the United States in one handy volume. Its hundreds of tables are organized into 11 chapters covering attitudes, education, health, housing, income, labor force, living arrangements, population, spending, time use, and wealth. This edition of The American Marketplace contains the latest 2010 census data by age and sex, as well as population totals for states and metropolitan areas. The book includes attitudinal data from the recently released 2010 General Social Survey. Plus, you get the latest numbers on the changing housing market. Also included are 2010 labor force statistics, and the latest income data. The wealth chapters includes newly released information on what the Great Recession did to net worth, assets, and debts. The spending chapter reveals how spending patterns are changing.

ISBN 978-1-935775-27-0 (hardcover);

ISBN 978-1-935775-28-7 (paper); 642 pages; June 2011


· Americans and Their Homes: Demographics of Homeownership, 3rd ed.

The all-new third edition of Americans and Their Homes: Demographics of Homeownership–the first update since 2005–is already creating a buzz in the real estate industry with its up-to-date look at homeownership and the housing market through 2010. In Americans and Their Homes, which contains 50 percent more information than the previous edition, you get the very latest demographic data profiling the nation’s homeowners and renters–their age, income, household type, race, Hispanic origin and region of residence. You will also learn about their homes–heating, cooling, kitchen and laundry equipment, purchase price and value, housing costs, and much, much more. New to this edition of Americans and Their Homes is much more data on the demographics of renters and the characteristics of their homes and apartments. As it becomes more difficult to buy and sell houses, renting has become a viable alternative for millions of Americans–especially young adults. Americans and Their Homes shows you who rents and what they rent. Despite the turmoil of the Great Recession, most homeowners still have plenty of equity in their home. But a growing number are underwater. Americans and Their Homes: Demographics of Homeownership reveals these trends and gives you the facts behind them.

ISBN 978-1-935775-29-4 (hardcover);

ISBN 978-1-935775-30-0 (paper); 624 pages; June 2011


· The Who We Are Series brings you, in three accessible volumes, which can be purchased singly or as a set, the facts you need about the size and characteristics of the country’s Asians, blacks, and Hispanics–the most rapidly growing segments of the consumer marketplace. In each volume, chapters examine attitudes, education, health, housing, income, labor force status, living arrangements, population, spending, time use, and wealth (in Blacks and Hispanics only).


New to the second edition of the Who We Are Series is a chapter on the attitudes of Asians, blacks, and Hispanics on issues ranging from happiness and trust in others to religious beliefs, political identification, and support for gay marriage. The population chapter includes 2010 census data showing numbers nationally and by state and metropolitan area. The spending chapter examines how Asians, blacks, and Hispanics prioritize their money, and the time use chapter shows how they prioritize their time. Also included in these volumes is the most recent information on the incomes, labor force participation, educational attainment, college enrollment, and living arrangements of Asians, blacks, and Hispanics.


· Who We Are Three-Volume Series 

ISBN 978-1-935775-37-9 (hardcover);

ISBN 978-1-935775-38-6 (paper); June 2011

· Who We Are: Asians 

ISBN 978-1-935775-31-7 (hardcover);

ISBN 978-1-935775-32-4 (paper); 290 pages; June 2011

· Who We Are: Blacks 

ISBN 978-1-935775-33-1 (hardcover);

ISBN 978-1-935775-34-8 (paper); 312 pages; June 2011

· Who We Are: Hispanics 

ISBN 978-1-935775-37-9 (hardcover);

ISBN 978-1-935775-38-6 (paper); 326 pages; June 2011


For your convenience, all of New Strategist’s titles are available as searchable single- and multiple-user pdfs that are linked to spreadsheets of all the data tables in each book so you can do your own analyses and create PowerPoint presentations.