American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
May 2016

Boomers: 35% of Voters in 2016


2. New Tools:  


AMERICAN INCOMES, 11th edition

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

1. Hot Trends

Boomers: 35% of Voters in 2016
The Baby-Boom generation will account for more than one-third of voters in the 2016 presidential election, outnumbering voters in the other generations. Millennials will account for 26 percent of the total. Gen Xers will rank third, casting 20 percent of votes–more than the Silent and World War II generations combined. The oldest members of the iGeneration (aged 18 to 21) will cast their first vote for president in 2016, and they will account for just 4 percent of the total. Demo Memo calculated these figures by applying single-year-of-age citizenship and voting rates from the 2012 presidential election to the Census Bureau’s 2016 population projections
Boomers will outnumber Millennials at the polls because they will be much more likely to vote. Expect 71 percent of citizens in the Baby-Boom generation to vote in 2016, equal to the voting rate of Americans in the Silent and World War II generations. A smaller 63 percent of Gen X citizens can be expected to vote. Among Millennial citizens, the voting rate should be about 54 percent. Only 38 percent of citizens in the iGeneration are expected to vote.
Percent distribution of voters in 2016 by generation
iGeneration (18 to 21): 4.3%
Millennials (22 to 39): 26.0%
Generation Xers (40 to 51): 19.8%
Baby Boomers (52 to 70): 35.3%
Older Americans (71-plus): 14.6%
Attitudes Toward the Federal Government
Only 44 percent of Americans have a positive image of the federal government, according to a Gallup survey. The percentage varies by political party: 30 percent of Republicans have a positive image versus 59 percent of Democrats. Here are the positive percentages by age…
Positive image of the federal government
Aged 18 to 29: 58%
Aged 30 to 49: 43%
Aged 50 to 64: 38%
Aged 65-plus: 40%
City Growth, 2010 to 2015
Between 2010 and 2015, the population of the nation’s 754 largest cities (incorporated places with populations of 50,000 or more in 2015) grew by an average of 5.4 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates. The remainder of the United States grew by a smaller 3.0 percent. City growth varies little by city size, with large cities of all sizes growing faster than elsewhere…
City population growth 2010-2015 by city size
1 million or more: 5.2%
500,000 to 999,999: 6.4%
250,000 to 499,999: 5.6%
200,000 to 249,999: 4.8%
150,000 to 199,999: 5.3%
100,000 to 149,999: 5.2%
50,000 to 99,999: 5.1%
Among the 10 cities with 1 million or more residents, none lost population between 2010 and 2015. Among the 24 cities with 500,000 to 999,999 residents, only Detroit lost population.
Decline in Retirement Satisfaction
The percentage of retirees who say their retirement is “very satisfying” fell from 60.5 percent in 1998 to 48.6 percent in 2012, reports the Employee Benefit Research Institute in an analysis of data from the Health and Retirement Study. The decline in retirement satisfaction has occurred across the board: men and women, wealthy and poor, healthy and sick–all were less likely to report their retirement as “very satisfying” in 2012 than in 1998.
Could the decline in satisfaction simply be due to disgruntled Boomers entering the retiree segment and skewing the results? Not according to EBRI’s analysis. When EBRI examined the retirement satisfaction of retirees who had been in the HRS sample since 1998, they found a similar decline in satisfaction as they aged over the years.
Percent of retirees who say retirement is “very satisfying”
2012: 48.6%
2010: 50.6%
2008: 53.2%
2006: 53.1%
2004: 54.5%
2002: 60.8%
2000: 60.8%
1998: 60.5%
Fertility of Baby Boom Women
The baby-boom generation was the first to make working mothers the norm. They succeeded, according to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite juggling work and family, fully 83 percent of boomer women had children. The BLS analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, which has been tracking a nationally representative sample of people born between 1957 and 1964 (younger boomers) since they were aged 14 to 22. To analyze the completed fertility of boomer women, the BLS examined data from the 2010 interview, when respondents were aged 46 to 53. These are some of the findings…
  • Educated boomers had fewer children: Boomer women had an average of 1.97 children, but the number varied by educational attainment. Women without a high school diploma had the most children–an average of 2.47. Fertility declined with increasing educational attainment. Women with a bachelor’s degree had an average of only 1.68 children.
  • Hispanic boomers had more children: The average Hispanic boomer had 2.29 children, Blacks had 2.15, and non-Hispanic Whites had 1.92. But the ranking changed after controlling for educational attainment. Among women with a bachelor’s degree, non-Hispanic Whites had the most children (1.71), and Blacks had the least (1.47). Hispanic women with a bachelor’s degree had 1.52 children.
  • Boomer women with full-time jobs had fewer children: Women who spent less than a quarter of the years since they were aged 25 in full-time jobs had the most children, an average of 2.54. The number of children declined with increasing full-time work. Women who worked full-time in more than three-quarters of the years since they were 25 had an average of only 1.36 children.
The Generations in 2015
One in four Americans is a Millennial, a member of the nation’s largest generation. According to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau’s population estimates, Millennials became the largest generation in 2011 when they outnumbered Boomers by just 332,000. In 2015, Millennials outnumbered Boomers by 4 million.
Between 2010 and 2015, the number of Millennials grew by 2.2 million thanks to immigration. The number of Baby Boomers shrank by 2.5 million as the aging generation faced higher mortality rates. The number of Older Americans fell by 9 million during those years.
Size of generations in 2015 (and % of total population)
Recession (aged 0 to 5): 23,925,439 (7%)
iGeneration (aged 6 to 20): 62,563,691 (19%)
Millennial (aged 21 to 38): 79,016,798 (25%)
Generation X (aged 39 to 50): 49,340,192 (15%)
Baby Boom (aged 51 to 69): 74,879,316 (23%)
Older Americans (aged 70+): 31,693,384 (10%)
Homeownership by Generation, 2015
The Baby-Boom generation is no longer the largest, having been surpassed by Millennials in 2011. But Boomers still dominate homeownership. According to a Demo Memo analysis of Census Bureau data, here are the homeownership rates (and share of homeowners) by generation in 2015…
Homeownership rate by generation (and share of total)
Total households: 63.7 percent are homeowners (100%)
Millennial: 39.8 percent are homeowners (18%)
Generation X: 64.8 percent are homeowners (22%)
Baby Boom: 75.5 percent are homeowners (41%)
Older Americans: 78.7 percent are homeowners (20%)
Note: In 2015 Millennials were under age 39; Gen Xers were 39 to 50; Boomers were 51 to 69.
Telephone Status of Americans, 2015
The latest update on the telephone status of Americans shows a growing plurality of adults living in households with cell phones (wireless-only) and no landline phone…
Telephone status of Americans aged 18+ in 2015 (and 2012)
47.7% are in a wireless-only household (36.5%)
43.7% are in a landline and wireless household (54.4%)
5.8% are in a landline-only household (7.0%)
2.7% are in a household with no telephone (1.9%)
These are the demographic segments most likely to live in wireless-only households: Hispanics (60.5%); in poverty (64.3%); aged 25 to 29 (72.6%); living with nonrelatives (78.8%); and renters (68.8%).
Fewer Are Buying Reading Material
According to a Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, a shrinking percentage of households is buying reading material (books, newspapers, magazines, e-editions and e-readers)…
Percent of households buying reading material, average quarter
2014: 26%
2010: 37%
2005: 46%
2002: 54%
Percent Who Need Help Doing Errands
Many older adults, especially women, have difficulty doing errands by themselves, according to the latest edition of Health, United States, 2015. Here is the percentage with difficulty by age…
Aged 18 to 64: 3.1%
Aged 65 to 74: 6.4%
Aged 75 to 84: 12.9%
Aged 85-plus: 26.2%
Aged 18 to 64: 3.9%
Aged 65 to 74: 9.4%
Aged 75 to 84: 20.7%
Aged 85-plus: 45.0%
Are You In the Top 10 Percent?
How much do you earn relative to your peers? For you to be among the highest-paid 10 percent of your peer group (defined by sex and educational attainment), then your usual weekly earnings must be at least this high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Usual weekly earnings of men in top 10%
$1,031 for those who did not graduate from high school
$1,544 for high school graduates, no college
$1,858 for those with some college or an associate’s degree
$2,896 for those with a bachelor’s degree only
$3,871 for those with an advanced degree
Usual weekly earnings of women in top 10%
$696 for those who did not graduate from high school
$1,111 for high school graduates, no college
$1,327 for those with some college or an associate’s degree
$2,016 for those with a bachelor’s degree only
$2,409 for those with an advanced degree
Eating Habits in 2014
64 minutes: that’s how much time Americans aged 15 or older spend eating and drinking as a primary activity on an average day, according to a USDA Economic Research Service analysis of the 2014 American Time Use Survey. We spend another 16 minutes eating and drinking as a secondary activity–meaning eating and drinking while doing something else such as watching TV. These are the ways we eat…
  • Top three places for primary eating and drinking: own home or yard (71%), workplace (11%), restaurant or bar (9%).
  • Top three places for secondary eating and drinking: own home or yard (54%), workplace (22%), driving a vehicle (7%).
  • Top five activities while secondary eating and drinking: watching television (24%), paid work (23%), food and drink preparation (6%), socializing with others (5%), reading for personal interest (3%).
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


In six states, more than 20% of residents aged 5 or older speak Spanish at home…

Arizona: 20.4%
California: 28.8%
Florida: 20.2%
Nevada: 20.3%
New Mexico: 28.7%
Texas: 29.5%


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