Tag Archives: Baby boomers

By the Numbers: Spending Habits of Older Americans

Editor’s note: The following has been cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor blog. The writer is Ann C. Foster, an economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An image depicting the different items older and younger households spend their money on.

It’s no secret that people’s needs and spending habits change over time. For Older Americans Month, we took a look into the data to highlight some of the spending changes. Check out these Consumer Expenditure Survey fast facts and see how your spending stacks up to that of the older generation:

  • Older households are more apt to be homeowners (79 percent) than younger households (57 percent). Please note: By “older households,” we mean those with a reference person (often the principal homeowner or renter) 65 years and older, and by “younger households” we mean those with a reference person under 65 years.
  • Housing is the greatest expense, both in dollar amount ($15,529) and as a share of the household budget (34.8 percent) among older households.
  • Older and younger households are similar in that 85 percent of older households and 88 percent of younger households own or lease at least one vehicle.
  • Transportation expenses among older households, however, are lower in dollar amount ($6,846) and as a share of the household budget (15.3 percent) compared with younger households ($10,310 and 17.4 percent, respectively). That’s probably because older households have fewer earners and would be less likely to have job-related transportation costs.
  • Because older households have fewer earners, pensions and Social Security costs are much lower in dollar amount ($2,401) and as a share of the household budget (5.4 percent) among older households compared with younger households ($7,118 and 12 percent).
  • Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are higher in dollar amount ($5,766) and as a share of the household budget (12.9 percent) among older households compared with younger households ($3,912 and 6.6 percent).
  • Clothing is often a job-related expense that should decrease when household members retire. This could be one reason clothing expenses are lower among older households ($1,060 and 2.4 percent) than younger households ($2,079 and 3.5 percent).
  • Cash contributions (everything from charitable donations to child support payments) among older households are higher: $2,287 and 5.1 percent, compared with $1,676 and 2.8 percent for younger households.
  • Social Security, private pension and government retirement payments account for more than half (51.3 percent or $23,912) of the pretax income of older households. Among younger households these sources account for only 3.8 percent ($2,900) of pretax income.

The Growing Need for Eldercare Workers

Editor’s note: The following has been cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor blog. The writer is Emily Rolen, an economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tens of millions of babies were born in the United States between 1946 and 1964, and by 2024, nearly 70 million people will be between the ages of 60 and 78. People age 65 and older are projected to make up 23 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population in 2024, up from 18.1 percent in 2014 and 15.5 percent in 2004. As the population ages, they’ll need more workers to care for them in nursing care facilities, retirement communities, or at home.

As a result, occupations related to eldercare are projected to be among the fastest growing in the economy over the next decade. In fact, home health aides, personal care aides, registered nurses, nursing assistants and LPNs/LVNs are projected to add more than 1.6 million new jobs by 2024, or about 1 in 6 new jobs added to the economy. Let’s take a closer look at some of these jobs.

A graphic showing projected growth in eldercare-related healthcare occupations to 2024

Home health aides and personal care aides help older adults, as well as people with disabilities or cognitive impairment, with self-care and everyday tasks like bathing, housekeeping and meal preparation. Home health aides also provide basic health-related services, such as checking vital signs or administering prescribed medications. However, personal care aides cannot provide any medical services. Both occupations work in clients’ homes, long-term care settings, and residential care communities.

Home health aides and personal care aides typically do not need formal education, but most have a high school diploma or equivalent. Both learn their jobs through a brief period of on-the-job training. Home health aides are projected to be the fifth-fastest growing occupation between 2014 and 2024, with more than 348,000 new jobs. Personal care aides are projected to add more than 458,000 new jobs between 2014 and 2024, more than any other occupation.

Nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses work primarily in nursing homes and in hospitals, where they provide basic care. They help patients with activities of daily living, such as bathing, using the toilet and getting dressed. Nursing assistants and LPNs/LVNs listen to their patients, record health concerns and report that information to registered nurses and doctors. Depending on their work setting and the state in which they work, LPNs/LVNs may be allowed to perform additional tasks such as giving medication, starting intravenous drips, or doing routine laboratory tests.

Nursing assistants and LPNs/LVNs typically need a postsecondary nondegree award to enter the occupation. LPNs/LVNs must also have a license. The economy is projected to add 262,000 new nursing assistant jobs by 2024, and LPNs/LVNs are projected to increase by more than 117,000.

Registered nurses, the largest healthcare occupation, provide and coordinate medical care. In 2014 more than 3 in 5 RNs worked in hospitals. They observe patients, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results, and set up plans for patients’ care. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

RNs are projected to add 439,300 by 2024, the largest increase after personal care aides. RNs usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

Want to know more? Explore these occupations and many more in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

BLS Microdata Now More Easily Accessible to Researchers across the Country

I am pleased to announce that BLS is now part of the Federal Statistical Research Data Center Network.

Researchers at universities, nonprofits, and government agencies can now go to 24 secure research data centers across the United States to analyze microdata from our National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth and our Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Before, researchers had to visit our headquarters in Washington, D.C., to use these data.Image of researchers examining data.

Making our underlying data more accessible for researchers from coast to coast is a huge step forward, and I hope it will lead to a surge in research using BLS data. I believe that having more researchers use BLS data not only will showcase new uses of the data but improve our products by encouraging researchers from BLS and other organizations to collaborate. It also supports transparency because external researchers can analyze inputs to our published statistics.

Another key benefit to having BLS data alongside datasets from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics is that researchers can combine data from two or more agencies. Using multiple datasets allows researchers to match data to answer new questions with no more burden on our respondents. Put simply, more data = better research = better decisions that rely on research.

Researchers are enthusiastic about adding BLS data to the research data center network.

“We at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta are excited that more BLS microdata are available to researchers. Policy questions are usually complicated. Matched data from different sources can give researchers a much better understanding of economic relationships. That will help us provide more informed policy advice,” said John Robertson, senior policy adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Over the next year, we will add more BLS data to the research data centers based on user demand.

Researchers can also still visit us at our D.C. headquarters to access our full suite of microdata. To learn more and to apply, see our BLS Restricted Data Access page.

Thinking About a New Job? Try Healthcare

Editor’s note: The following has been cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor blog. The writer is Michael Wolf, chief of the Division of Occupational Employment Projections at BLS.

Healthcare jobs have a bright outlook. In fact, about 1 in every 4 new jobs added to the economy between 2014 and 2024 will be in healthcare fields, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.

health-care-1-in-4

What’s behind this wave of growth? A couple of factors: The baby boom generation is aging and people are living longer, so there will be more older people who need healthcare services to remain healthy and active. Also, rates of chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity are growing, so more healthcare workers will be needed to help care for people with conditions like these. And because more people have health insurance due to federal health insurance reform, they’re also more likely to use healthcare services, increasing the demand for many kinds of healthcare workers.

health-care-growth

Healthcare job opportunities are found across all education levels—from graduate degrees to just a high school diploma. However, wages are typically higher for those that need more education.

health-care-wages-2

Explore these jobs and many more using the online Occupational Outlook Handbook at www.bls.gov/ooh. Need help finding a job or changing careers? Visit your local American Job Center or explore our online resources.

Why This Counts: Tracking Labor Market Experience over a Lifetime

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is best known for our monthly job and inflation reports. We also publish data on many other topics, ranging from how Americans spend their time and money to workplace injuries and the growth of entrepreneurship. My blog series, “Why This Counts,” explains why we conduct our surveys and how people can use the data at work and home. I hope this series will take the mystery out of our data and make our work come to life for both new and advanced users.

Today I want to tell you about a fascinating group of surveys called the National Longitudinal Surveys. It’s especially timely to talk about these surveys for two reasons: 1) we published a news release this week with the latest data from one of the surveys, and 2) the program is one of the important legacies of former BLS Commissioner Janet Norwood, who passed away recently.

The National Longitudinal Surveys stand out because they are designed to answer key long-term questions about people’s paths through life. Most of our measures about the labor market and economy focus on current conditions. What’s the national unemployment rate? How rapidly is employment growing in California or North Dakota or Georgia? How many job openings are there in manufacturing? What are the trends in consumer prices for food, energy, clothing, and shelter? It’s important to have up-to-date answers for these and other economic questions. But some questions take longer to answer—years or even decades.

Some long-term questions we care about include: How many jobs do people hold over their lifetimes? How do earnings grow at different stages of workers’ careers? The surveys designed to answer these and other long-term questions are called “longitudinal” surveys. What’s that mean?

A longitudinal survey asks questions about the same people at different points in their lives. Longitudinal surveys are useful for studying changes that occur over long periods. These surveys are also useful for examining cause-and-effect relationships. For example, how do events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult? This week we published a new report that looks at the experiences of baby boomers from age 18 to age 48.

The survey follows a set of people born in the latter years of the post-World War II baby boom, 1957 to 1964, and living in the United States when the survey began in 1979. To answer my earlier questions—using just-released data—these baby boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs from age 18 to age 48. Their inflation-adjusted hourly earnings grew the most during their late teens and early twenties, and earnings generally grew faster for college graduates than for people with less education.

Real wage growth-final

The survey doesn’t just ask about labor market activity. It also asks about education, training, health, marriages and other relationships, children, use of government programs, juvenile crimes and arrests, drug and alcohol use, and much more. Why do we ask about these topics, some of which are pretty sensitive? In short, we’re trying to understand all the things that affect or are affected by labor market activity. That covers nearly every part of our lives.

Before this survey of baby boomers began in 1979, four other longitudinal surveys began in the 1960s of earlier generations. BLS began another survey in 1997 that represents people born in the years 1980 to 1984 and living in the United States at the start of the survey. We only still conduct the surveys of the two more recent generations, but we have learned so much from all the surveys. These surveys are some of the most analyzed in the social sciences. Researchers in economics, sociology, psychology, education, and health sciences have used the surveys to examine a broad range of topics. Here are just a few examples of what researchers have learned from the surveys:

  • Nobel Prize winner James Heckman and his colleagues found that noncognitive skills, such as motivation and perseverance, are as important to future labor market success as are skills such as reading and math.
  • People who obtain a GED or other exam-certified high school equivalent have labor market outcomes that are similar to those of high school dropouts, rather than to people who earn a regular high school diploma.
  • The labor market effects of a 4-year college degree are similar for those who start at a 4-year college and those who transfer from a 2-year college to a 4-year college.
  • Obesity is not only a health concern, but a labor market concern. Workers pay a price for obesity with lower wages and employment, and this price is higher for women than men.
  • Low birth weight is a better predictor than cognitive test scores of whether people either work or attend school at ages 24 to 27. Birth weight also is a better predictor of adult wages.

You can find information about thousands of other research studies in the National Longitudinal Surveys bibliography.

Although we learn a lot each time we update our monthly and quarterly data on employment, compensation, prices, and productivity, there is so much we could not learn without these longitudinal surveys.

This is all possible thanks to Janet Norwood—and to the people who have agreed to participate in the surveys for so long—so that we can understand people’s paths over time!