American Consumers Newsletter
by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
America’s Philosophical Divide
RACIAL AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY 7th ed.
HOUSEHOLD SPENDING 18th ed. (2011 data!)
AMERICAN GENERATIONS 8th ed.
AMERICAN MEN AND WOMEN 2nd ed.
1. Hot Trends
America’s Philosophical Divide
Here’s an interesting way to look at what divides us: a survey of religious beliefs combined with economic and social attitudes finds Americans falling into four philosophical camps:
38% religious moderates
28% religious conservatives
19% religious progressives
Not surprisingly, these four groups differ in size by political party, according to the timely report, Do Americans Believe Capitalism and Government Are Working? by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution. The 56 percent majority of Republicans, but only 13 percent of Democrats, are religious conservatives. Forty-five percent of Democrats, but only 11 percent of Republicans, are religious progressives or nonreligious.
Few Plan for College Expenses
The typical family with an 18-to-24-year-old enrolled in an undergraduate program paid $21,178 for college in the 2012-13 school year. The funds came from a combination of parent income and savings ($5,727), loans ($5,760), grants and scholarships ($6,355), student income ($2,284), and gifts from relatives and friends ($1,053).
College Degree Outcomes
They feel this way despite the fact that fewer than half of 21-to-24-year-olds who earned a bachelor’s degree between 2003 and 2011 are employed in a job that requires a college degree. Here is the percent distribution of recent college graduates by their current employment status, according to a study by the Economic Mobility Project (How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?)…
42% are employed in a “college job”
26% are employed in a “high school job”
22% are attending school
10% are unemployed or not in the labor force
Black or African American?
Which term do African Americans prefer? According to a Gallup survey, 65 percent of blacks say it does not matter whether the term “black” or “African American” is used.
There is little variation by age in this attitude, with the proportion of blacks who say either term is okay ranging from a low of 62 percent among 18-to-29-year-olds (with 20 percent preferring African American and 17 percent black) to a high of 73 percent among those aged 65 or older (with 16 percent preferring African American and 11 percent black).
Hispanic or Latino?
Which term do Hispanics prefer? According to a Gallup survey, 70 percent of Latinos say it does not matter whether the term “Latino” or “Hispanic” is used.
Job Growth along the Rural-Urban Continuum
The more urban the county, the greater the population growth during the 2010-to-2012 time period, according to my analysis of the Census Bureau’s county population estimates by county rank on the Rural-Urban Continuum. But what about job growth along the Rural-Urban Continuum? Not surprisingly the pattern is the same, according to county employment estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics…
- Employment grew the fastest in the most urban counties between 2010 and 2012, up 2.9 percent. These are counties in metropolitan areas with populations of 1 million or more (a 1 on the Rural-Urban Continuum).
- In smaller metros (2 or 3 on the continuum), the number of employed grew between 1.4 and 1.9 percent during those years.
- In small-town America (nonmetropolitan counties ranking 4 to 7 on the continuum), employment grew by only 0.8 percent.
- In rural counties (8 or 9 on the continuum), employment inched up by 0.7 percent.
Best Family Life
But as questions get more specific, attitudes toward sex roles get more traditional. When Americans are asked which is the best way to organize family life when a couple has a preschooler, the largest percentage (41 percent) say father should work full-time and mother should work part-time. Almost as many (40 percent) say mother should stay at home. Only 11 percent think both parents working full-time is the best solution. Women are more likely than men to think mother should work part-time and men more likely than women to say mother should not work at all.
Why Life Expectancy is Declining among Less-Educated Americans
Life expectancy in the United States has been rising, but studies show the least educated Americans are not enjoying these gains. In fact, life expectancy has been declining over the past few decades among those without a high school diploma. What accounts for these divergent trends?
Living to Age 120
Most of the public does not want to live to the age of 120, according to a Pew survey. The 56 percent majority of Americans say they personally “would not want medical treatments that slow the aging process and allow the average person to live decades longer, to at least 120 years.” Interestingly, however, 68 percent think others would choose to live that long.
Who Controls the Nation’s Wealth?
American households had an aggregate net worth (assets minus liabilities) of $40 trillion in 2011, according to the Census Bureau. By far the largest share of the nation’s wealth is controlled by householders aged 65 or older. Here is the distribution of household wealth by age of householder…
Under age 35: 4%
Aged 35 to 44: 9%
Aged 45 to 54: 18%
Aged 55 to 64: 26%
Aged 65-plus: 43%
E-Books vs. Print Books
Three out of four Americans aged 16 or older read a book in the past 12 months, according to a Pew Internet and American Life survey. The figure peaks at 90 percent among 16-to-17-year-olds (many of whom are required to read books in high school) and bottoms out at 67 percent among people aged 65 or older.
Percentage of men aged 25 to 29 who have never married, according to the Census Bureau…
Trends in Household Burglary
First, the good news: the number of household burglaries fell sharply between 1994 and 2011– down 56 percent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Now for the bad news: the median dollar value of the items stolen in completed burglaries grew from $389 to $600 during those years, after adjusting for inflation.
What do burglars want? The same thing the rest of us want: portable electronic devices. In 2011, portable electronics were the most commonly stolen items, taken in 34 percent of completed burglaries. Cash, credit cards, purses, and wallets were stolen in a much smaller 17 percent of completed burglaries. Interestingly, even criminals have turned into couch potatoes. Burglaries in which bicycles or sporting equipment was stolen fell from 13 percent of the total in 1994 to just 9 percent in 2011.
According to the 2012 General Social Survey, this is the percentage of Americans who have ever…
Received a traffic ticket: 64%
Been picked up by police: 20%
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW
For the average American household, these are the five biggest household expenses:
1. Social Security deductions
3. Mortgage interest or rent
4. Vehicle purchases
2. Q & A
Why Are Cities Growing Again?
Steuteville unravels the mystery of why cities are growing in one of the most insightful pieces on the topic to date (Why Are Young Adults Returning to the City?). He thinks four factors are behind the growing preference for urban life. His analysis doesn’t provide many details (whole books could be written about each factor), but by identifying and linking the processes driving urban growth Steuteville goes a long way toward explaining one of the most important trends of our time.
1. Millennials “looked around their home towns and saw something missing,” says Steuteville. Take a drive and you soon see what he means. In the decades since the baby-boom generation populated small town and suburban America, those areas have lost their soul. Mom and Pop establishments, once the foundation of community, have been replaced by Dollar stores, AutoZones, Walmarts, and McDonalds staffed by minimum wage workers and vacuuming local dollars away from the community. Today’s small towns and suburbs are devoid of a sense of place and offer little economic opportunity for the most highly educated generation in history.
2. “The higher the education level, the greater the demand for urban living,” reports Steuteville. No wonder, then, that Millennials are flocking to cities — the generation is better educated than any other. Nearly two-thirds have college experience and one-third has a bachelor’s degree. With so many Millennials spending years in walkable college neighborhoods, says Steuteville, they have tasted a higher quality of life and want more of it.
3. The fact is, of course, they can’t afford to buy a house in the suburbs even if they wanted one. Student debt, says Steuteville, prevents Millennials from spending on houses and cars.
4. “But the biggest incentive may be their peers,” Steuteville concludes. Millennials are moving to urban centers because that’s where their friends are, he explains. With the median age at first marriage at a record high for both men and women, Millennials face a choice — live with Mom and Dad in a dead zone or join their friends in a vibrant urban area where jobs are growing and opportunities abound.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW
3. Cool Research Links
To keep up-to-date on ever-changing demographics and lifestyles, check out these useful links.
Every generation boosted its retirement savings between 2007 and 2013, according to the survey. Boomers have saved a median of $104,000 for retirement, up from $75,000 in 2007. Gen Xers have saved $45,000, up from $32,000. Millennials have saved $19,000, up from $9,000.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW
Here are four all new and expanded one-stop resources for understanding American consumers–vital, cost-effective information. Get the answers you need for business success in today’s competitive economy!
Racial and Ethnic Diversity has the numbers and analysis you need to understand our multicultural society. It includes a chapter on attitudes by race and Hispanic origin based on data form the 2012 General Social Survey. It includes detailed estimates and projections of the U.S. population, showing how soon minorities will outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Racial and Ethnic Diversity also has the latest socioeconomic data on blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. American Indians are also profiled, when data are available.
You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables
Paperback: $94.95 (978-1-940308-01-2) 798 pages
The annual spending data in Household Spending, the first edition of which was published more than twenty years ago in 1991, allow you to compare and contrast spending by a host of demographic characteristics. With this vital information, which is not available online, you can determine market potential, identify your best customers, and understand which segments account for the largest share of spending. You get the answers by the demographics that count–age, income, high-income households, household type, region of residence, race and Hispanic origin, and education.
You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables
Hardcover: $125.00 (978-1-940308-06-7) 612 pages
Paper: $94.95 (978-1-940308-07-4)
Today’s world is changing rapidly. People who are as little as 10 years apart in age can have very different experiences, making them unlike one another in significant ways. American Generations reveals the differences. The age and generational profiles in the book are an invaluable resource for marketers, advertisers, entrepreneurs, and businesses large and small.
You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tools as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.
Hardcover: $120.00 (978-1-940308-02-9) 466 pages
Paper: $89.95 (978-1-940308-03-6)
The second edition of American Men and Women: Who They Are and How They Live examines the many dimensions of our changing lives. The nation’s men and women are not who they used to be, their roles revolutionized over the past half century. Those roles are still fluid and evolving. Today’s young adults are postponing marriage and childbearing, creating a new baby bust. Young women are better educated than young men, and many have higher incomes as well. Tracking these changes has become more important than ever as businesses compete for customers.
American Men and Women is divided into ten chapters: Attitudes, Education, Health, Income, Labor Force, Living Arrangements, Population, Spending, Time Use, and Wealth. The attitudes chapter, based on data from the 2012 General Social Survey, compares what men and women think and examines how their attitudes differ by age. Also included in this book is a chapter on time use based on unpublished data from the invaluable American Time Use Survey. American Men and Women also provides the latest labor force projections, the latest population projections, and statistics on income, labor force participation, living arrangements, health status, spending and wealth.
You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.
Paper: $89.95 (978-1-940308-05-0) 452 pages