American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
March 2018

Minority Majority in 2045


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Minority Majority in 2045

The U.S. population will become minority majority in 2045, according to the Census Bureau’s new (2017 vintage) population projections. This is one year later than forecast by the bureau’s earlier series of projections (2014 vintage). Behind the one-year delay is the ongoing baby bust as well as slowing immigration.

Minorities as a percent of U.S. population, 2017 to 2060
2017: 39.1%
2020: 40.3%
2025: 42.3%
2030: 44.2%
2035: 46.2%
2040: 48.3%
2045: 50.3%
2050: 52.2%
2055: 54.0%

2060: 55.7%

The Census Bureau projects that the non-Hispanic White population will fall by 10 percent between 2017 and 2060. The Black population will grow 58 percent during those years, Hispanics 89 percent, and Asians 111 percent.

Although Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities will become the majority of the population in 2045, they will not come the majority of voters until much later. According to a Demo Memo analysis, minorities will become the majority of voters in the presidential election of 2064 at the earliest.


Surprises in the 2017 Population Projections

The Census Bureau’s new population projections (vintage 2017) are interesting for a number of reasons–slowing growth, the aging of the population, the decline in non-Hispanic Whites, and minorities becoming the majority. Also interesting is how they differ from the previous projection series, produced in 2014. A look at how the bureau revised its estimates of births, deaths, and net international migration reveals four unexpected trends reshaping us now.

1. The population is growing more slowly than expected.

The future size of the American population will be less than what the Bureau had projected just a few years ago, and the differences will pile up quickly. The 2020 population will be smaller by 2 million than what the bureau projected for that date in its 2014 vintage projections. In 2060, the population will be 13 million less than the previous projection for that year (404 million versus 417 million).


2. Women will have fewer babies than expected. 

Compared to the 2014 projection series, the latest series forecasts 3 million fewer births during the 2017 to 2060 time period. The ongoing baby bust and reduced immigration are behind the muted births. Overall, the annual number of births is forecast to rise from about 4 million today to 4.38 million in 2060. The earlier projection series forecast 4.52 million births a year by 2060.


3. Fewer immigrants will come to the United States

Compared to the 2014 projection series, the latest series projects 14 million fewer net international migrants over the 2017 to 2060 time period. Even this smaller projected number of migrants may be too optimistic because it does not take into account Trump administration policies that could further curb immigration. The annual net number of international migrants is forecast to be about 1.1 million during most of the 2017 to 2060 time period, down from the 1.3 million to 1.5 million previously projected.


4. Fewer deaths will occur during the forecast period.

Compared to the 2014 series, the bureau projects 5 million fewer deaths during the 2017 to 2060 time period. This makes sense since the population will be smaller. The annual number of deaths is projected to rise from 2.7 million today to 3.9 million by 2060–less than the projected 4.1 million annual deaths by 2060 in the earlier projection series. But this forecast of fewer deaths may be overly optimistic. According to Tom Lawler, a housing economist writing in Calculated Risk, the latest mortality projections do not incorporate the recent increase in deaths among young and middle-aged adults. Indeed, the bureau assumes rising life expectancy for all groups rather than the decline of the past two years.


If the number of immigrants is further reduced by Trump’s policies, and if there are more deaths than predicted, then U.S. population growth over the next few decades may be even slower than forecast by the new projections.


Non-Hispanic White Births by State

Nearly 4 million babies were born in the United States in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 52 percent majority were born to non-Hispanic White mothers. But in 11 states and the District of Columbia, non-Hispanic Whites accounted for fewer than half of births…

Non-Hispanic White share of births, 2016
20.2% in Hawaii
27.2% in California
28.4% in New Mexico
31.2% in District of Columbia
33.7% in Texas
38.4% in Nevada
41.7% in Arizona
42.8% in Maryland
44.1% in Florida
44.6% in Georgia
44.9% in New Jersey
47.5% in New York

At the other extreme, 92 percent of births in West Virginia were to non-Hispanic Whites–more than in any other state.


Homeownership Rate Rises to 63.9%

The nation’s homeownership rate increased to 63.9 percent in 2017, according to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey. This was 0.5 percentage points higher than the post-Great Recession low of 63.4 percent recorded in 2016. Despite the increase, the 2017 homeownership rate still ranks among the lowest since the Census Bureau created the data series in 1982. But it is significantly higher than in 2016 and the first increase in more than a decade–since the homeownership rate peaked in 2004. Could it be the start of a trend?

Homeownership rate
2017: 63.9%
2016: 63.4% (post Great Recession low)
2015: 63.7%
2010: 66.9%
2004: 69.0% (all-time high)
2000: 67.4%
1990: 63.9%
1982: 64.8%


Homeownership Rate by Age, 2017

The homeownership rate increased in 2017, rising to 63.9 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey. That is the first increase in more than a decade. Does the rise mean the housing market is returning to normal? Not likely, since the advancing age of first-time home buying (the age at which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent) shows no signs of retreating.

Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation’s first-time home buyers. But their homeownership rate has fallen by a stunning 11.7 percentage points since the overall homeownership rate peaked in 2004–the largest decline of any age group. With a homeownership rate of just 45.7 percent in 2017, householders aged 30 to 34 are no longer the nation’s first-time home buyers. That distinction now belongs to householders aged 35 to 39.Homeownership rate by age, 2017 (and percentage point changed since 2004 peak)
Under age 25: 22.6 (-2.6)
Aged 25 to 29: 32.1 (-8.1)
Aged 30 to 34: 45.7 (-11.7)
Aged 35 to 39: 56.4 (-9.8)
Aged 40 to 44: 61.8 (-10.1)
Aged 45 to 54: 69.3 (-7.9)
Aged 55 to 64: 75.3 (-6.4)
Aged 65-plus: 78.7 (-2.4)


Homeowners by Race/Hispanic Origin, 2017

Homeownership varies greatly by race and Hispanic origin. According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey, the gap in the homeownership rate of non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks is fully 30 percentage points…

Homeownership rate in 2017
Asian: 57.2%
Black: 42.3%
Hispanic: 46.2%
Non-Hispanic White: 72.3%

The 30.0 percentage-point gap in 2017 was even bigger than the 26.6 percentage-point gap in 2000 because Black homeownership fell more than non-Hispanic White in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Because housing equity accounts for the largest share of household wealth, the wealth gap between Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites has grown, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances. Between 2001 and 2016, the median net worth of non-Hispanic White households rose 2.8 percent to $171,000, after adjusting for inflation. During those years the median net worth of Black households fell 33 percent to just $17,600.


For Men, Age of Retirement is 65

A look at the labor force participation of older men by single year of age reveals the exact age when retirement becomes the norm–when the percentage of men in the labor force drops below 50 percent. That age was 65 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics–one year later than in 2010 as a growing share of baby-boom men delay retirement.

Percent of men in the labor force, 2017
Age 60: 69.8
Age 61: 68.0
Age 62: 62.5
Age 63: 57.0
Age 64: 53.1
Age 65: 44.7 (age of retirement)
Age 66: 41.9
Age 67: 36.3
Age 68: 32.1
Age 69: 29.3
Age 70: 26.6

Since 2010, the labor force participation rate of men ranging in age from 61 through 66 increased by 2 to 3 percentage points. At that rate of increase, it will take over a decade before more than 50 percent of men aged 65 are in the labor force and the age of retirement rises to 66.


For Women, Age of Retirement Is 63

Baby-boom women are delaying retirement. A look at the labor force participation rate of older women by single year of age shows when labor force participation drops below 50 percent and retirement becomes the norm. For women, that age was 63 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics–two years younger than men. The earlier age of retirement for women makes sense, since most are married to men who are slightly older.

Percent of women in the labor force, 2017
Age 60: 59.9
Age 61: 55.8
Age 62: 50.4
Age 63: 47.2 (age of retirement)
Age 64: 40.5
Age 65: 34.1
Age 66: 32.0
Age 67: 28.4
Age 68: 22.8
Age 69: 21.5
Age 70: 19.0The labor force participation rate of women in their sixties is rising, although not as rapidly as men’s. The age of retirement for women in 2010 was 62, a year younger than in 2017. If the labor force participation rate of older women continues to rise as it has been, women’s age of retirement may reach 64 in another decade or so.


How Commuting Has Changed (or not) 

Americans are moving to the cities. Bicycling is growing in popularity. Working at home is increasingly common. These seemingly big trends have made only small cracks in the well-paved journey to work, long dominated by solo trips in automobiles. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, this is how we got to work in 2016…

76.3% drove alone in a car, truck, or van: While the 76.3 percent figure of 2016 is slightly below the all-time high of 76.6 percent in 2015 (and 2010), it is slightly above the 76.0 percent of 2006. The percentage of workers who drive alone to work has bobbled within a few tenths of 76 percent for more than 10 years. During the past decade, no other mode of transportation to work has gained more adherents. The number of workers who drive to work alone expanded by nearly 10 million between 2006 and 2016, a 9 percent increase.
9.0% carpooled: The percentage of workers who carpool was a larger 10.7 percent in 2006.
5.1% used public transportation: The percentage of workers who took public transportation to work in 2016, was greater than the 4.8 percent of 2006. But buses accounted for a shrinking share of commuters (2.5 percent, down from 2.7 percent in 2006). More commuting on trains, streetcars, ferries, and especially subways, made up the difference.
5.0% worked at home: In 2006, a smaller 3.9 percent worked from home.
2.7% walked to work: 
This was smaller than the 2.9 percent who walked to work in 2006.
0.6% bicycled to work: The number of people who bicycle to work climbed 39 percent between 2006 and 2016. But the percentage who bicycle rose from only 0.5 to 0.6 percent.
1.2% used “other” means to get to work: This catch-all category includes taxis, motorcycles, and other means of transportation (skateboards, maybe?). The percentage using “other” was stable between 2006 and 2016, despite the rise of Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing services.


The Boomer Love Affair with Cars

No segment of the population is as devoted to the automobile as the baby-boom generation. Boomers were born into a world of one-car families. By the time they were old enough to drive, second cars were becoming common and Boomers took the wheel, radios blasting. More than 1,500 songs about cars were recorded between 1961 and 1965, reports Wikipedia.

Youth culture and car culture were one.

Boomers are no longer young, but their devotion to cars continues. The average Boomer household is home to more cars (2.3) than people (2.0), according to an AARP survey. The survey explores Boomer attitudes toward cars as they approach the age when their children will wonder whether they should take Daddy’s car keys away. That won’t be easy.

“Independence” is one of the top words Boomers use to describe their feelings about driving, with 78 percent saying their vehicle is the key to their independence. That may be why fully 57 percent of Boomers say they will never stop driving. Three out of four Boomers say their vehicle brings them happiness. It’s not that Boomers are completely averse to changes in how they get from here to there. But only 20 percent have ever used ride-sharing services. When asked to describe their ideal vehicle, 78 percent would make it a standard rather than a driverless vehicle because they love to drive. And kids, don’t try arguing with your Boomer parents about how their driving skills aren’t what they used to be. Eighty percent of Boomers say they are better drivers than most people they know.


Smartphone Ownership, 2018

More than three-quarters of American adults (77 percent) own a smartphone, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey. Smartphone ownership does not vary much by race, Hispanic origin, or sex. But big differences persist by age and education…

Smartphone ownership by age
Aged 18 to 29: 94%
Aged 30 to 49: 89%
Aged 50 to 64: 73%
Aged 65-plus: 46%

Smartphone ownership by education
Not a HS grad: 57%
HS grad only: 69%
Some college: 80%
College grad: 91%


Men’s Wages Are Increasingly Unequal

Trends in the real wages of men tell a story of growing inequality, according to an analysis by Patrick J. Purcell in Social Security Bulletin. Between 1981 and 2014, says Purcell, “the wage distribution became more unequal as wage growth in the top 10 percent of earners substantially outpaced the rate of growth for earners below the 90th percentile.”

Real annual wage of men aged 25 to 59 by income percentile, 2014 (% change since 1981)
10th percentile: $13,387       (+3.8%)
25th percentile: $25,339       (-2.0%)
50th percentile: $45,000       (+4.7%)
75th percentile: $75,413      (+22.1%)
90th percentile: $121,763    (+50.7%)
99th percentile: $392,250  (+117.7%)

For all men, median real wages (50th percentile) climbed just 4.7 percent during those years. For men at the top of the wage distribution, real wages more than doubled.


Asians Most Likely to be Multilingual

Among American adults, 29 percent can speak a language other than English. The multilingual population varies greatly by race and Hispanic origin, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey. Most Asians and Hispanics are multilingual. Most Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites are not…

Can speak a language other than English
Total: 29%
Asians: 82%
Blacks: 26%
Hispanics: 68%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 19%


74% Read a Book in the Past Year

Nearly three out of four Americans aged 18 or older have read a book in the past year, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey. Print is the most popular format by far, and the percentage that has read a print book has not changed much in the past six years despite competition from digital books.

Percent who read a book in past year by format
Print: 67%
E-book: 26%
Audiobook: 18%

Among those who have read a book in the past year, 53 percent have read only print books, 9 percent have read only digital books (a category that includes e-books and audiobooks), and the remaining 39 percent have read both formats.


20% of Older Americans Have Diabetes

Diabetes has become a common health condition among older Americans, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Overall, 8.8 percent of Americans aged 18 or older had been diagnosed with diabetes as of the first half of 2017, up from 5.3 percent two decades ago in 1997. The percentage with diabetes rises steeply with age…

Percent diagnosed with diabetes, January-September 2017
Aged 18 to 44:   2.8%
Aged 45 to 54:   9.6%
Aged 55 to 64: 15.7%
Aged 65-plus:  19.6%

One factor behind the rise of diabetes is growing obesity. The percentage of adults who are obese (defined as having a body mass index of 30 kg/m² or higher) climbed from 19 percent in 1997 to 31 percent in the first half of 2017. But this estimate of obesity is conservative because it is based on self-reported rather than measured heights and weights. When self-reporting, inches are gained and pounds are shed. According to a 2015-16 NCHS survey of measured heights and weights, a stunning 40 percent of American adults are obese.

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


Percent change in inflation-adjusted median earnings of men and women who work full-time, 2007 to 2016…

Men: -1.1%
Women: +2.3%


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Percent distribution of households with children under age 18 by generation…

Millennials: 51%
Generation X: 38%
Baby Boomers: 11%
Older Americans: 1%