Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Tchotchke Index

The more Americans are willing to spend on tchotchkes—gift shop items, home decor trinkets, yard sale finds—the greater the economic confidence. Five years ago Demo Memo Blog created the Tchotchke Index to track excess consumer spending (here is the original post). The Tchotchke Index is the amount of money spent by the average household on "decorative items for the home," a detailed category in the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Sadly, the Tchotchke Index has plummeted to the lowest level on record.

More from Demo Memo

Monday, September 29, 2014

The GOP’s Millennial problem runs deep

From the Pew Research Center:

The Republican Party’s struggles in appealing to young people have been well documented. And even those Millennials who do identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP are decidedly less conservative than older Republicans.

Overall, Millennials (currently ages 18-33) are the most liberal age group. In our report on Political Polarization in the American Public, we used a scale based on 10 political values questions about the role of government, the environment, homosexuality and other issues to measure ideological consistency. This survey of more than 10,000 Americans finds that, on this scale, Millennials are considerably more liberal than other generations: About four-in-ten Millennials are mostly (28%) or consistently (13%) liberal in their views, compared with 15% who are mostly (12%) or consistently (3%) conservative (44% are ideologically mixed). Older generations are progressively more conservative.

Friday, September 26, 2014

TV and Media 2014

From Ericsson ConsumerLab

This report looks at changing consumer behaviors and values such as the increase of streaming video as well as growing willingness to pay for anywhere access. The TV landscape is changing. New aggregators are enabling consumers to decide what they want to watch and pick-and-mix their own services. This disruption puts the user at the center. It will be up to brands and service providers to build compelling consumer experiences.

Slideshow presentation.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New census data shows desperate need for health care in red states

Seven of the 11 large metro areas where the uninsured rate was higher than the 14.5 percent national average last year are located in states that refused to expand to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Two are in Florida, three are in Texas, and the others are Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina. The metro area with the highest uninsured rate was Miami, at a staggering 25 percent, compared to the national low of 4 percent in greater Boston...

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, those decisions not to expand the program will leave 4.8 million people uninsured. More than 1 million of them live in Texas, 764,000 are in Florida, 409,000 are Georgia residents and 319,000 live in North Carolina.

More from Daily Kos.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

College Enrollment Declines for Second Year in a Row

School Enrollment
College enrollment declined by close to half a million (463,000) between 2012 and 2013, marking the second year in a row that a drop of this magnitude has occurred. The cumulative two-year drop of 930,000 was larger than any college enrollment drop before the recent recession, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics from the Current Population Survey released today. The Census Bureau began collecting data on college enrollment in this survey in 1966.
      As the nation’s students and teachers return to the classroom, the Census Bureau has published School Enrollment in the United States: 2013, detailing national-level statistics on the characteristics of students, from nursery school to graduate school. The data were collected in the October School Enrollment Supplement to the 2013 Current Population Survey.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Operation ‘Full Disclosure’ Targets More Than 60 National Advertisers

After reviewing numerous national television and print advertisements, staff of the Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letters to more than 60 companies – including 20 of the 100 largest advertisers in the country – that failed to make adequate disclosures in their television and print ads. The initiative – Operation Full Disclosure – is the FTC’s latest effort to ensure that advertisers comply with federal law and do not mislead consumers.

Operation Full Disclosure focused on disclosures that were in fine print or were otherwise easy to miss or hard to read, yet contained important information needed to avoid misleading consumers. In the warning letters, staff identified problematic ads, recommended that advertisers review all of their advertising to ensure that any necessary disclosures are truly “clear and conspicuous,” and asked them to notify the staff of the actions they intended to take with respect to their advertising. The response to staff’s letters has been extremely positive.

More from the Federal Trade Commission.

Monday, September 22, 2014

American Community Survey Provides New State and Local Income, Poverty, Health Insurance Statistics

Income levels and poverty rates were not statistically different for most states from 2012 to 2013, according to statistics released from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the nation’s most comprehensive data source on American households.
The state and local income and poverty statistics in the American Community Survey and the local-level health insurance statistics complement the national-level statistics released from the Current Population Survey and American Community Survey. The American Community Survey has included questions about health insurance coverage since 2008, and today’s release provides statistics for all metropolitan areas and places with a population of 65,000 or more. Of metro areas, Pittsfield, Mass., had among the lowest percentage of uninsured at 2.1 percent.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Domestic Abuse / Violence - Get Help

Domestic abuse and violence have been front-page news lately, and a topic of discussion throughout the country. The US Department of Justice defines domestic violence as, “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”
It can be:
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Economic
  • Psychological

If you, or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, there is help out there. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Unmarried and Single Americans Week Sept. 21-27, 2014

The Buckeye Singles Council started “National Singles Week” in Ohio in the 1980s to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society. The week is now widely observed during the third full week of September (Sept. 21-27 in 2014) as “Unmarried and Single Americans Week,” an acknowledgment that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word “single” because they are parents, have partners or are widowed. In this edition of Facts for Features, unmarried people include those who were never married, widowed or divorced, unless otherwise noted.
Single Life
105 million
Number of unmarried people in America 18 and older in 2013. This group made up 44 percent of all U.S. residents 18 and older.              
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2013 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2013A.html> Table A1
Percentage of unmarried U.S. residents 18 and older who were women in 2013; 47 percent were men.

State of Injustice: How New York State Turns its Back on the Right to Counsel for the Poor

The right to an attorney is guaranteed under the United States Constitution. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a competent lawyer even if he or she cannot afford one.

But more than 50 years later, poor and often innocent New Yorkers are forced through the criminal justice system and sent to jail undefended and alone.

State of Injustice: How New York State Turns its Back on the Right to Counsel for the Poor focuses on five counties: Onondaga (Syracuse), Suffolk, Ontario, Schuyler and Washington. In each of these counties, people too poor to afford private attorneys too often appear before judges without a lawyer by their side, or are forced to navigate the criminal justice system with a revolving cast of overworked attorneys unfamiliar with their cases. Public defense attorneys who strive to protect the rights of their clients are too often thwarted by caseloads up to five times the recommended maximums and a lack of resources for investigations, experts and even workplace basics like computers.

More from the NYCLU.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Income inequality is taking a toll on state governments

The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue, according to a report being released Monday by Standard & Poor's.

Even as income for the affluent has accelerated, it's barely kept pace with inflation for most other people. That trend can mean a double-whammy for states: The wealthy often manage to shield much of their income from taxes. And they tend to spend a lower percentage of it than others do, thereby limiting sales tax revenue.

As the growth of tax revenue has slowed, states have faced tensions over whether to raise taxes or cut spending to balance their budgets as required by law.

"Rising income inequality is not just a social issue," said Gabriel Petek, the S&P credit analyst who wrote the report. "It presents a very significant set of challenges for the policymakers."

More from the Skanner.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014’s Most and Least Educated Cities


Call them what you will: the cream of the crop, the best and brightest, the intellectual elite. But it’s official; the college-educated third of Americans are society’s new upper crust. Research has shown that skilled workers who are also degree holders tend to pump the most money into their local economies over time. A city’s prosperity, one then can assume, depends in large part on the productivity of its educated citizens.

However expensive college may be in 2014, its economic returns “remain high and provide a pathway for individual economic mobility,” according to a recent report from the Treasury and Education departments. The latter further pointed out that education “expands job opportunities” and “boosts America’s competitiveness” in the global arena.

A little more than a year ago, the Economic Policy Institute also released its report on the effects of education on state finances. The EPI’s findings suggested that college degrees are supremely important in helping to resuscitate weak economies. One way to strengthen states is to attract well-paying employers “by investing in education and increasing the number of well-educated workers.”

More from Wallethub.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2014′s Most & Least Fair State Tax Systems

With summer ending, the 2014 elections are starting to heat up. And as usual tax policy is a hot button issue as candidates for Governor, state legislatures and other state and local offices from both parties claim their plan is more “fair.” But what does a fair tax system look like? Which states actually have the most fair tax systems?

As a follow up to our 2014 Tax Fairness Survey which focused largely on federal tax policy, WalletHub has analyzed and ranked the 50 states based on the fairness of their state and local tax systems — including income taxes, sales & excise taxes, and property taxes. To rank the states, Wallethub conducted a nationally representative online survey of 1,050 individuals to assess what Americans think a fair state and local tax system looks like. Our analysts then compared what Americans think is fair to data on the real structure of tax systems in all 50 states.

We believe this is the first ever ranking of state and local tax fairness that matches representative data on what Americans think is fair with real data on the structure of state and local tax systems.

See more from Wallethub

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013

     The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that in 2013, the poverty rate declined from the previous year for the first time since 2006, while there was no statistically significant change in either the number of people living in poverty or real median household income. In addition, the poverty rate for children under 18 declined from the previous year for the first time since 2000. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2014 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.
      The nation’s official poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15.0 percent in 2012. The 45.3 million people living at or below the poverty line in 2013, for the third consecutive year, did not represent a statistically significant change from the previous year’s estimate.
      Median household income in the United States in 2013 was $51,939; the change in real terms from the 2012 median of $51,759 was not statistically significant. This is the second consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive annual declines.
      The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire 2013 calendar year was 13.4 percent; this amounted to 42.0 million people.
      These findings are contained in two reports: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Churches They Are a Changin’: Americans’ Attitudes Toward Same-sex Marriage Are Transforming the Face of Congregations

Earlier this year, PRRI released a survey showing that support for allowing same-sex couples to marry has risen an astonishing 21 percentage points since the first legal gay weddings were performed in Massachusetts in 2003. Now, a new study of American congregations shows that Americans’ shifting perspectives on same-sex relationships are also transforming church life.

The National Congregations Study (NCS)... found that 48 percent of congregations today allow gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships to be members, up from 37 percent in 2006. More churches are also allowing gay and lesbian congregants to serve in volunteer leadership positions: 26 percent of churches reported that no volunteer leadership positions were closed to gay and lesbian members, up from 18 percent in 2006.

There were some differences among denominations.

More from the Public Religion Research Institute.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: Sept. 15–Oct. 15

4.8 million
 Los Angeles County had the largest Hispanic population of any county in 2013.

 Miami-Dade County in Florida had the largest numeric increase of Hispanics from 2012 to 2013. Source: 2013 Population Estimates <http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2014/cb14-118.html>

 Number of states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group. These states were Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, PEPSR6H and PEPSR5H<http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=PEP_2013_PEPSR5H&prodType=table> and <http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=PEP_2013_PEPSR6H&prodType=table>

Families and Children

11.9 million
The number of Hispanic family households in the United States in 2013. Source: Families and Living Arrangements: Table F1 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/files/cps2013/tabF1-hisp.xls>

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES)

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) was created in 2010. DHSES and its four offices -- Counter Terrorism, Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications -- provide leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies.

The women and men of DHSES work closely on a daily basis with all levels of government, the private sector, and volunteer organizations to improve the readiness, response and recovery capabilities of communities throughout the Empire State.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America

Here's a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products -- sell by, use by, best before -- almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they're not regulated in the way many people believe. The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.

U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America's dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified. Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That's nearly half our food, wasted -- not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our grocery stores and on our farms. Much of it perfectly good, edible food -- worth $165 billion annually -- gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who's hungry. Misinterpretation of date labels is one of the key factors contributing to this waste.

See more from National Resources Defense Council, and read the full report. From that report:

According to our 50-state research, 41 states plus the District of Columbia require date labels on at least some food items, whereas nine states do not require them on any foods. For example, New York does not require date labels to be applied to any products, while all six of its neighboring states—New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island—have such requirements.

Also check out EatByDate.com and the USDA.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher Congratulates SUNY Campuses on U.S. News Rankings

“SUNY colleges and universities offer students top quality degree programs, applied learning opportunities, and workforce training that prepare them for success and position New York State as a leader in the 21st-century global economy.

“Today’s favorable rankings by U.S. News & World Report are another testament to SUNY’s capacity to deliver on our promises of access, completion, and success as we offer one of the best values in higher education anywhere in the country.

“Congratulations to the many SUNY campuses recognized by the 2015 U.S. News and World Report rankings.” 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Additional 2013 Characteristics of New Housing

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction, which is jointly funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has released new annual characteristics tables. This release includes never before published data on age-restricted developments, presence of homeowners association, sewer and water systems, framing material and laundry. The report provides estimates of new privately owned residential structures in the U.S and the four regions. Internet address.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

National Grandparents Day 2014: Sept 7

In 1970, Marian McQuade initiated a campaign to establish a day to honor grandparents. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. This day has been celebrated every year since in honor of our nation’s grandparents.

7.1 million
The number of grandparents whose grandchildren under 18 years old were living with them in 2012.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10050
Grandparents as Caregivers
2.7 million
The number of grandparents responsible for the basic needs of one or more grandchildren under age 18 living with them in 2012. Of these caregivers, 1.7 million were grandmothers and 1.0 million were grandfathers.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10056
The number of grandparents responsible for grandchildren under age 18 and whose income was below the poverty level in the past 12 months, compared with the 2.1 million grandparent caregivers whose income was at or above the poverty level.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10059
Median income for families with grandparent householders responsible for grandchildren under age 18. Among these families, where a parent of the grandchildren was not present, the median income was $35,296.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10010
1.9 million
The number of married (including separated) grandparents responsible for caring for their grandchildren.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10057
1.6 million
The number of grandparents in the labor force responsible for their own grandchildren under age 18. Among them, 359,791 were 60 years or older.
Source: U. S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10058
The number of grandparents who had a disability and were responsible for their grandchildren.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10052
1.9 million
The number of grandparents responsible for their grandchildren who were living in owner-occupied housing, compared with 850,871 that were living in renter-occupied housing.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012, American Community Survey, Table B10061
The number of foreign-born grandparents responsible for their own grandchildren under age 18. This contrasts with 2.2 million native-born grandparent caregivers.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10053
2.1 million
The number of grandparents responsible for their grandchildren who speak only English. Another 252,775 speak another language, but speak English “very well”; 398,387 speak another language and speak English less than “very well.”
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10054
5.6 million
The number of children under age 18 living with a grandparent householder in 2012. Nearly half,
48 percent or 2.7 million, were under age 6.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B10001
Percentage of children in the U.S. living with a grandparent in 2013, totaling 7.1 million.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2013, Table C4
2.8 million
The number of children living with both grandmother and grandfather in 2013.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2013, Table C4

It’s Official

The number of nursery, garden center and farm supply businesses with paid employees in the U.S. in 2012. The forget-me-not was named the official flower of National Grandparents Day by the National Grandparents Day Council.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 County Business Patterns, NAICS 444220

The number of musicians, singers and related workers employed full time, year-round, in 2012. “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa” was named the official song of National Grandparents Day in 2004 by the National Grandparents Day Council.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table B24124

Friday, September 5, 2014

Census Flows Mapper Highlights Labor Force Characteristics of Movers Between Counties

Of the 16.6 million people who lived in a different county one year before, 7.3 million were employed and 1.3 million were unemployed, according to new migration statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. A little over 5 percent of the U.S. population lived in a different county one year earlier.
The County-to-County Migration Flows Tables, which use data collected by the American Community Survey between 2008 and 2012, show how many residents move (flow) from one specific county to another during the course of a year.
“These statistics show the work, occupation and employment status of movers at the time they were surveyed,” said Kin Koerber, a demographer with the Census Bureau’s Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch. “With the new update, we can see movements of occupation groups from one part of the country to another.”
The release includes new statistics on employment status, work status and occupation characteristics and an update to the online mapping tool Census Flows Mapper. In addition, migration flows from Puerto Rico municipios (county equivalents) to U.S. counties are included for the first time.
Below are a few highlights for all counties in the U.S., which provide an example of the information available in Census Flows Mapper:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?

Annie Lowrey writes in the Times Magazine about the troubles of Clay County, Ky., which by several measures is the hardest place in America to live.

The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking.

The 10 lowest counties in the country, by this ranking, include a cluster of six in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky, along with four others in various parts of the rural South.

More from the New York Times.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Updated Information on Households Receiving Public Assistance

The Census Bureau this week released a brief, based on data collected during the 2012 American Community Survey, on household receipt of public assistance. Statistics are provided for the nation, states and the 25 metropolitan statistical areas with the largest populations. Public assistance includes Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and General Assistance (GA). Although similar briefs have been published for each of the last several years, this is the first that provides comparisons back to 2000 and for metro areas.
Highlights from Public Assistance Receipt: 2000 to 2012 include:
·         There was no significant increase in 2012 in the number or percentage of U.S. households receiving public assistance benefits from the previous year. Both the 2011 and 2012 American Community Survey showed that 3.3 million households, or 2.9 percent, received public assistance at some point in the previous 12 months.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Growing Blue-State Diaspora

From the New York Times

Californians have moved to Colorado and Nevada. Massachusetts natives have moved to New Hampshire. New Yorkers have moved to North Carolina and Virginia — and, of course, have continued moving to Florida.
Over the last few decades, residents of many traditionally liberal states have moved to states that were once more conservative. And this pattern has played an important role in helping the Democratic Party win the last two presidential elections and four of the last six. The growth of the Latino population and the social liberalism of the millennial generation may receive more attention, but the growing diaspora of blue-state America matters as well.
The blue diaspora has helped offset the fact that many of the nation’s fastest-growing states are traditionally Republican. You can think of it as a kind of race

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day 2014: Sept. 1

Labor Day 2014: Sept. 1
The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a “working men’s holiday” on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated “Labor Day.” This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. 
Who Are We Celebrating?
155.6 million
Number of people 16 and over in the nation’s labor force in May 2013. 
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1

                                         Our Jobs

Largest Occupations May 2013                                                       Number of employees
Retail salespeople                                                                                       4,485,180
Cashiers                                                                                                     3,343,470
Combined food preparation and serving workers,                                             3,022,880               including fast food
Office clerks, general                                                                                   2,832,010
Registered nurses                                                                                       2,661,890
Waiters and waitresses                                                                               2,403,960
Customer service representatives                                                                 2,389,580
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand                                  2,284,650
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal                                 2,159,000
medical, and executive
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping                                2,101,810
 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupations with the Highest Employment, May 2013, <http://www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/featured_data.htm#largest>

Largest Occupations 1910                                                               Number of employees