American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
July 2017

Population Growing More Diverse


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Population Growing More Diverse

The U.S. population grew by 13.8 million between 2010 and 2016, according to the Census Bureau. The non-Hispanic White population accounted for just 4 percent of the increase, while Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities accounted for 96 percent of the gain. The minority share of the population climbed to 38.7 percent, up from 36.2 percent in 2010. Here are the Census Bureau’s 2016 population estimates by race and Hispanic origin…

Total population: 323,127,513

The U.S. population grew 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 13.8 million.

Non-Hispanic Whites: 197,969,608 (61.3%) 

The non-Hispanic White population grew by a minuscule 0.3 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 575,289. Growth of the non-Hispanic White population is slowing to a crawl as deaths outnumber births. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of non-Hispanic Whites grew by just 5,206 compared with a gain of more than half a million for Asians and Blacks and more than 1 million for Hispanics.

Hispanics: 57,470,287 (17.8%)

The Hispanic population grew 13.2 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 6.7 million. Hispanics accounted for 49 percent of the nation’s population growth between 2010 and 2016.

Blacks (alone or in combination): 46,778,674 (14.5%)

The Black population grew 7.9 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 3.4 million. Blacks accounted for 25 percent of the nation’s population growth between 2010 and 2016.

Asians (alone or in combination): 21,419,159 (6.6%) 

The Asian population grew 20.3 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 3.6 million. Asians accounted for 26 percent of the nation’s population growth between 2010 and 2016.

Minority Majority in Youngest Generation

According to the Census Bureau 2016 population estimates, there’s now a generation of Americans in which Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities account for the majority of members. The Recession Generation, a placeholder name for those born in the most recent and ongoing baby bust beginning in 2009, is 50.1 percent minority and 49.9 percent non-Hispanic White. Hispanics account for 26 percent of the Recession generation, Blacks for 18 percent, and Asians for 7 percent.

Overall, 38.7 percent of Americans are Asian, Black, Hispanic, or another minority. Here are the percentages by generation…

Minority share of population by generation, 2016
Recession (0 to 6): 50.1%
iGeneration (7 to 21): 47.2%
Millennials (22 to 39): 44.0%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 38.5%
Boomers: (52 to 70): 28.8%
Older (71 or older): 21.3%

Baby Bust Continues in 2016

The number of births in the United States fell to 3,941,109 in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s about 37,000 fewer births than in 2015. Except for a small increase in 2014, the number of births has declined in every year since 2007, when births hit a record high of 4.3 million.

Number of births (in 000s)
2016: 3,941
2015: 3,978
2014: 3,988
2013: 3,932
2012: 3,953
2011: 3,954
2010: 3,999 (start of baby bust)
2009: 4,131
2008: 4,248
2007: 4,316 (record high)

The nation’s fertility rate fell to 62.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, an all-time low. The birth rates for women in every age group under age 30 fell to record lows in 2016, while the birth rates for women aged 30 or older increased.

Here’s the most interesting thing: the birth rate for women aged 30 to 34–for the first time–was higher than the rate for women aged 25 to 29. The 25-to-29 age group had held the distinction of being the peak childbearing years since 1983, when it overtook the 20-to-24 age group. Clearly, the peak childbearing years can advance only so far, and the Millennial generation is testing the limits.

Fewer Births in 46 States

The ongoing baby bust is occurring in 46 states, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Nationally, the number of births fell 8.7 percent between 2007 (the year when births peaked at 4.3 million) and 2016 (3.9 million births). By state, the decline during those years is in the double digits in 15 states, with New Mexico seeing the biggest drop…

States with a double-digit decline in births, 2007 to 2016
19% decline: New Mexico
18% decline: Mississippi, Arizona
15% decline: Illinois
14% decline: Georgia, California, Connecticut
13% decline: New Hampshire, West Virginia, Rhode Island
12% decline: New Jersey, Nevada, Vermont
10% decline: Idaho, Maine

The number of births increased in only four states and the District of Columbia between 2007 and 2016: South Dakota (up 0.1%), Alaska (1.4%), Washington (1.7%), District of Columbia (11.3%), and North Dakota (28.7%).

51% of Households with Children Are Headed by Millennials  

Despite the fact that Millennials are postponing marriage and childbearing, the generation now accounts for the majority of households with children under age 18. The Millennial share of the nation’s households with children under age 18 crossed the 50 percent threshold for the first time in 2016, according to a Demo Memo analysis of Census Bureau data. Here is the distribution…

Distribution of households with children under age 18 by generation, 2016
Total with children: 100.0%
Millennial (under 40): 51.2%
Generation X (40 to 51): 37.5%
Boomer and older (52-plus): 11.3%

Nearly half (48 percent) of Millennial households include children under age 18. Among Generation X, the figure is almost identical at 49 percent.


College Leads to Postponed Parenting

One-third of the high school sophomores of 2002 were parents ten years later in 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics‘ Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. The longitudinal survey is tracking a representative sample of 2002 high school sophomores as they confront the challenges of adulthood. One of the key findings is how big a role higher education plays in the timing of childbearing. Here are the percentages of 2002 high school sophomores who had become parents by 2012, by educational attainment…
69.6% of high school dropouts
53.0% of high school diploma only
40.5% of those with some college
35.4% of those with an associate’s degree
12.8% of those with a bachelor’s degree
9.1% of those with a graduate degree

Median Sales Price of New Single-Family Houses Sold Hits Record High of $316,200

For the second year in a row, the median sales price of new single-family houses sold climbed to a record high, according to the Census Bureau. The $316,200 median in 2016 was 5 percent greater than the $300,100 of 2015, after adjusting for inflation.

From just $235,500 in 2000, the median price of new single-family houses sold climbed rapidly in the early years of the 2000s as the housing bubble inflated, reaching a high of $296,000 in 2005 before collapsing. From that peak to the post-Great Recession low of $242,400 in 2011, the median sales price of new single-family houses sold fell 18 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Between 2011 and 2016, the price climbed 30 percent.

Median sales price of new single-family homes sold, 2000 to 2016 (in 2016 dollars)
2016: $316,200 (record high)
2015: $300,100
2014: $286,700
2013: $277,000
2012: $256,300
2011: $242,400 (post Great Recession low)
2010: $244,100
2005: $296,000 (pre Great Recession high)
2000: $235,500

Household Spending by Generation, 2015

The Baby Boom controls a larger share of aggregate household spending than any other generation, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ Consumer Expenditure Survey. Boomers control 35 percent of the $7.2 trillion spent by households in 2015. Gen X and Millennial households combined control 52 percent of aggregate household spending…

Aggregate household spending (and percent distribution) by generation, 2015
Millennials (under 39): $1,906 billion (26.5%)

Gen Xers (39 to 50): $1,858 billion (25.8%)

Boomers (51 to 69): $2,522 billion (35.1%)
Older (70 or older): $910 billion (12.7%)

Clash of Cultures: Rural vs. Urban

Most rural residents think those who live in big cities do not share their values, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post Survey of Rural America. Urban residents are evenly split on whether rural residents share their values.

Rural residents think the values of big-city residents are
Similar: 29%
Different: 68%

Big-city residents think the values of rural residents are...
Similar: 49%
Different: 48%

Suburban residents are more likely to believe their values align with rural than big-city folks, with 65 percent saying the values of rural residents are similar to their values and a smaller 43 percent saying the values of big-city residents are similar.

Why Gun Sales Are Growing

Gun sales reached an all-time high in 2016, despite the fact that the number of households with guns has barely grown over the past decade. An estimated 40.8 million households owned a gun in 2016, up from 39.5 million in 2016–just a 3 percent increase. The percentage of households with guns fell to 32 percent in 2016, down from 34 percent in 2006, according to the General Social Survey.

Despite the small increase in the number of households with guns over the past decade, gun sales have soared. The number of background checks run through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (the best estimate of gun sales) more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, rising from 10 million to 28 million. What explains the surge in gun sales? According to the results of a Pew Research Center survey on gun ownership, the likely explanation is that gun owners are buying more guns…

Number of guns owned by gun owners
One gun: 32%
2 to 4 guns: 37%
5 or more guns: 29%
Did not answer: 2%

Confidence in Newspapers Rises

The public’s confidence in newspapers is on the rise, according a Gallup survey. The percentage of Americans who say they have “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of confidence in newspapers climbed to 27 percent in 2017, up from 20 percent last year. What’s behind the growing confidence? Democrats. Here is the percentage of people with “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of confidence in newspapers by political affiliation and how confidence changed between 2016 and 2017…

2017: 46%
2016: 28%
Change: +18 percentage points

2017: 13%
2016: 16%
Change: -3 percentage points

“These party differences may represent a backlash against President Donald Trump’s proclamation that the media are “the enemy of the people,” says Gallup.

Who’s Watching TV, 2006 to 2016 

Adults under age 45 are watching less TV on an average day than they did a decade ago, according to a Demo Memo analysis of American Time Use Survey data, while those aged 45 or older are watching more. Overall, the amount of time people aged 15 or older spend watching television as a primary activity on an average day climbed from 2.57 hours in 2006 to 2.73 hours in 2016. Behind the increase is the aging of the population and the greater amount of time older Americans spend watching television. Here are the trends…

Hours/day watching TV in 2016 (and % change 2006-16)
Aged 15 to 19: 1.94 (-8.1%)
Aged 20 to 24: 2.12 (-1.9%)
Aged 25 to 34: 1.95 (-11.4%)
Aged 35 to 44: 2.07 (-1.9%)
Aged 45 to 54: 2.66 (+11.8%)
Aged 55 to 64: 3.26 (+13.2%)
Aged 65 to 74: 4.10 (+7.0%)
Aged 75-plus: 4.33 (+3.6%)

Who’s Reading, 2006 to 2016 

Fewer Americans are reading on an average day, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the American Time Use Survey. In every age group, a shrinking share is reading for personal interest as a primary activity on an average day. Overall, the percentage of Americans aged 15 or older who read on an average day fell from 26 percent in 2006 to 19 percent in 2016. The biggest drops have occurred among older Americans, with double-digit declines among 45-to-74-year-olds…

Percent reading on an average day, 2016 (and percentage point change since 2006)
Aged 15 to 19: 8.7% (-1.2)
Aged 20 to 24: 10.1% (-0.5)
Aged 25 to 34: 12.0% (-3.4)
Aged 35 to 44: 13.9% (-7.5)
Aged 45 to 54: 15.3% (-12.2)
Aged 55 to 64: 25.5% (-13.2)
Aged 65 to 74: 33.0% (-14.8)
Aged 75-plus: 46.1% (-8.6)

Are Video Games Behind the Decline in Young Men’s Work Hours?

Young men are working fewer hours than they once did, and a new study suggests a novel reason for the decline–better video games.

Between 2000 and 2015, the number of hours men aged 21 to 30 worked for pay fell 12 percent, report researchers in a National Bureau of Economic Research study. The percentage of young men who did not work at all, excluding full-time students, climbed from 8 to 15 percent during those years.

To find out why work hours fell, the researchers look at trends in the work hours and leisure time of young men between 2004-07 and 2012-15. As work hours fell, leisure time increased. Young men devoted three-quarters of their increased leisure time to gaming and computers. Using data from the Current Population Survey and the American Time Use Survey, the researchers test their theory that “improved leisure technology raised the return to non-market time and consequently increased the reservation wage of younger men.” In other words, it takes more money than it once did to lure young men away from video games.

“Technology growth for recreational computer activities, by increasing the marginal value of leisure, accounts for 23 to 46 percent of the decline in market work for younger men during the 2000s,” the researchers conclude.

The Decline in First Class Mail

First-class mail is in a steep decline, not surprisingly. The number of pieces of first class mail handled by the U.S. Postal Service peaked in 2001 at nearly 104 billion, according to the USPS. By 2016, the number had slipped to 61 billion–a 41 percent decline and about what it was in 1981.

The biggest decline in first-class mail volume occurred after the introduction of the smartphone in 2007. Between 2007 and 2011, first-class mail fell by nearly 24 billion pieces–a decline of more than 5 billion pieces a year. Those years account for 56 percent of the overall decline in first-class mail volume since the 2001 peak. In more recent years, the decline in first-class mail volume has slowed to about 1.3 billion pieces a year.

Volume of first-class mail (in billions)
2016: 61.2
2015: 62.6
2011: 72.5
2007: 96.2
2001: 103.7 (peak year)

But There’s Good News for USPS…

First-class mail volume has dropped since its 2001 peak, but it’s not all bad news for USPS. In contrast to the first-class mail decline, parcel delivery is booming. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of packages handled by the Postal Service climbed from 3.1 billion to 5.2 billion–a 68 percent increase. Thanks, Amazon!
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


Households headed by people aged 25 to 34 spent less in 2015 than their counterparts did in 2000, after adjusting for inflation.

Average annual spending of householders 25 to 34 (in 2015$)
2015: $52,062
2010: $50,670
2006: $55,941
2000: $53,604

Source: Demographics of the U.S., 5th ed


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The number of homeowners under age 45 fell 23 percent between 2005 (the peak year) and 2015.

Homeowners under age 45 (in 000s)
2015: 20,474
2010: 23,007
2005: 26,435
2000: 25,846