Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Big Cities Are More Affordable than You Think

When comparing the cost of living in various cities, housing dominates the discussion. That's because housing is our biggest expense. In 2012, the average American household spent $16,000 on shelter and utilities—32 percent of the household budget.

But according to an analysis of HUD data by the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) of New York City, reported on in Better Cities and Towns, there is a second variable that should be included in the affordability equation: transportation, which is the the second biggest household expense. In 2012, the average household spent $9,000 on transportation—17 percent of the household budget.

Walkable cities with public transportation can be more affordable than sprawling cities where residents must devote a hefty portion of their budget to vehicles and gasoline. It turns out, New York City is affordable after all. The average New York City household spends only $5,752 annually on transportation—well below the national average. Long thought to be one of the most expensive places to live, the combined cost of housing and transportation in New York City is lower than in 13 of 22 cities examined by the CBC, including Miami, Atlanta, Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, and Jacksonville.

Source: Better Cities and Towns, Why San Francisco, New York and DC May Be More Affordable than You Thought

Monday, September 01, 2014

Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Nationally, 3.3 million workers are paid minimum wage or less. Here are some of their characteristics...

Percent who work full-time: 35.5%
Percent with college experience: 42.2%
Percent who live in the South: 46.4%
Percent food prep workers: 46.7%
Percent aged 25 or older: 49.6%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013 (pdf)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Favorite Musician by Generation

"Who is your favorite singer/musician or band?"

Millennials: Beyoncé
Gen Xers: Metallica
Boomers: Beatles
Matures: Willie Nelson

Source: Harris Interactive, In the Great Debate over Beatles vs. Elvis, Beatles are America's Favorite Band while Elvis is Musical Artist Number Two

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grading the Public Schools, 2014

Percent of Americans who would give a grade of A or B to...

Public schools in the nation: 17%
Public schools in their community: 50%
Public school their oldest child attends: 67%

Source: PDK/Gallup Poll, 46th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes toward the Public Schools

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pets vs. Babies

Percent change in average household spending, 2006 to 2012 (in 2012 dollars)...

Pet food: +29%
Pet supplies: +116%

Baby food: -35%
Baby clothes: -42%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Who's Rich, by Age

The median net worth of the top 20 percent (highest quintile) of households was $630,754 in 2011 (the latest data available). Here is the median wealth of the highest quintile of households by age of householder...

Under age 35: $153,616
Aged 35 to 44: $448,824
Aged 45 to 54: $654,229
Aged 55 to 64: $889,867
Aged 65-plus: $899,608

Source: Census Bureau, Detailed Tables on Distribution of Wealth and Debt

Monday, August 25, 2014

Age Difference between Husbands and Wives, 2013

Percent distribution of married couples by age difference between husband and wife...

Husband 2+ years older than wife: 53%
Husband and wife within 1 year: 33%
Wife 2+ years older than husband: 14%

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2013

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Police: Friend or Enemy?

"Do you generally think of the police more as friends, more as enemies, or don't you think of them in either of these ways?" asks a New York Times/CBS News poll.

Overall, 42 percent of Americans regard the police as their friend, 10 percent regard the police as their enemy, and 44 percent say the police are neither friend nor enemy. Here is the percentage of Americans who think of the police as their friend (or their enemy)...

Blacks: 23% (13%)
Whites: 49% (9%)

Men: 36% (15%)
Women: 48% (7%)

Aged 18-44: 29% (16%)
Aged 45-plus: 53% (5%)

Source: New York Times and CBS News, Reactions to the Shooting in Ferguson, Mo., Have Sharp Racial Divides

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Trends in Household Debt, 2000 to 2011

Percentage of households with any debt (and median debt), 2000 to 2011 (in 2011 dollars)...

2011: 69.0% ($70,000)
2010: 69.6% ($74,300)
2009: 72.0% ($72,900)
2005: 73.6% ($71,800)
2004: 73.8% ($69,000)
2002: 74.9% ($56,400)
2000: 74.2% ($49,600)

Source: Census Bureau, Detailed Tables on Debt

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Plunge in Teen Birth Rate

Teen births were not a problem in 1960. They were the norm. For every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 in 1960, fully 89.1 babies were born. Today, there are only 26.6 babies born for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19—a 70 percent decline. The overall birth rate in 2013 (62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44) is lower than the teen birth rate of 1960.

Teen births became a problem as marriage became less important. In 1960, half of women were married by age 20.3. Most "teen" births were to married women. Today, the median age at first marriage is 26.6 and most teen births are to single mothers.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National and State Patterns of Teen Birth in the United States, 1940-2013

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Carries the Most Cash?

Austrians carry the most cash, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston analysis of payment diary surveys in a number of countries. In Austria, the average person has $114 in his or her wallet (in US dollars). Germany is second, with the average person carrying $94. In the United States, the average person carries only $37.

The popularity of cash varies by country. Austrians and Germans carry more cash than Americans because they use cash more often. In both Austria and Germany, fully 82 percent of transactions are paid with cash versus 46 percent of transactions in the United States. Debit cards are more popular in the U.S., accounting for 26 percent of transactions versus only 13 to 14 percent of those in Austria and Germany. Credit cards account for a substantial 19 percent of transactions in the United States versus just 2 percent in Austria and Germany.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data

Monday, August 18, 2014

Death Rates by State

The overall age-adjusted death rate was 741.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2011. By state, the death rate ranged from a low of 584.9 in Hawaii to a high of 956.1 in Mississippi. These are the five states with the lowest and highest age-adjusted death rates...

1. Hawaii
2. California
3. Minnesota
4. Connecticut
5. New York

1. Mississippi
2. West Virginia
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma
5. Kentucky

Source: CDC, QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Death Rates, by State—United States, 2011

Friday, August 15, 2014

Eating Organic

Overall, 45 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they actively try to include organic food in their diet. The figure is highest in the West (54%) and in cities (50%). By age, this is the percentage who try to eat organic...

Aged 18 to 29: 53%
Aged 30 to 49: 48%
Aged 50 to 64: 45 %
Aged 65-plus: 33%

Source: Gallup, Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Time Spent Looking for Work

Looking for work became a bigger job after the Great Recession, according to an analysis of American Time Use Survey data by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

On an average day in 2003-07 (before the Great Recession), 20 percent of the unemployed searched for a job. On an average day in 2008-12 (during and after the Great Recession), a larger 24 percent of the unemployed spent time looking for work.

The intensity of the job search varies by educational attainment. On an average day in 2008-12, only 17 percent of unemployed high school dropouts spent time looking for work versus 23 percent of those with a high school diploma or associate's degree and fully 35 percent of those with a bachelor's degree. Among those who looked for work on an average day, the time devoted to job search ranged from a low of 28 minutes among unemployed high school dropouts to 67 minutes for unemployed college graduates.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Job Search Before and After the Great Recession