New census data about America
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has some of the best demography number crunchers anywhere. With superb research and analysis capability, not much in the field escapes their attention. Earlier this year the US Bureau of the Census released new statistics extrapolated from the 2020 Census. What took them so long? Supposedly, the delay was pandemic-related.
This recently released data is the 2020 Census Demographic and Housing Characteristics File (DHC). The DHC slices and dices the US population every which way to compile voluminous information on “age, sex, race, ethnicity, families, households, homeownership, and housing occupancy/vacancy.”
Now make no mistake: We’re all God’s children, but the Census tells us that we all aren’t the same, not by a long shot. We used to shrug our shoulders about such things and say, well, “variety is the spice of life” and go about our business. Modernism has mutated that innocuous sentiment into lockstep diversity mandates and made it rough for those who do not clamber aboard the PC bandwagon. Yes, that affects the Census. But I digress.
PRB Program Director Beth Jarosz went to work and distilled the DHC down to its essence. Her cogent and concise report is a tad unsettling to Americans longing for a healthy, wholesome and well-functioning society.
Ageing and lonely
Here are five troublesome takeaways from PRB’s census analysis:
“The US population has aged substantially.” Seventeen percent (17%) of Americans are 65 and older. The median age is 38.9. Utah has the youngest population (thank you, LDS Church) and the territory of Puerto Rico the eldest (a third or more of Puerto Ricans live in the continental US).
“Americans are increasingly living alone.” Almost 28 percent of Americans live alone. A huge number are lonely as well. Utah has the lowest percentage of single-person households, with thoroughly atomised Washington, DC having the highest.
“Childless households are more common.” Less than 27 percent of US households include children, a decline of 20 percent in ten years. Maine and Washington, DC were the lowest percentage, Utah the highest. What can we expect with a relentless 50-year decline in fertility?
“Homeownership rates are down overall—but up for some groups.” Homeownership increased for the 15 to 24 and over-75 cohorts and declined for everyone else. Everyone else includes that vital 25 to 40 cohort, those most likely to be raising a family.
“Fewer people live in institutions.” The percentage of folks in prisons and nursing facilities declined, but those in barracks (military), dorms and emergency shelters increased. I don’t know why there has been a decline in prison inmates. There are certainly some innocent people behind bars, but, sadly, given the spike in urban crime, there are more than a few folks on the loose who should be incarcerated, which could be a good thing for both them and the rest of us.
Kudos to PRB not only for their exceptional analytics, but also for releasing their findings in a cogent and succinct manner easily understood by the rest of us.
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Any demographer worth their salt realises that 2020 was one of the most turbulent years in American history aside from the Civil War (1861-1865), thus one of the most difficult in which to conduct a census. In periods of social stress and rising crime, people are not overly fond of strangers coming around, which did not bode well for census takers. Not only did we have the pandemic panic, but there was also a significant increase in civil disorder, forest fires, and much else that disrupted day-to-day life.
While such a chaotic environment was detrimental to gathering data from the public, it was quite a hospitable one for various kinds of mischief, including political chicanery. Little wonder that Americans have record low levels of confidence in the government and that 40 percent or more have reasonable suspicions about “rigged elections.”
As with every US Census, the issue of race comes front and centre. PRB related that there were suspected undercounts of poor and racial/ethnic minority populations, thus a relative overcount of Whites, Asians and retirees. As a rule, middle-class and up folks complete Census forms at significantly higher rates than the less affluent. That being the case, please no huffing and puffing about White and Asian privilege in the Census.
Nonetheless, this information is really helpful in assessing US demographic trends and the outlook for American families. The trends are not encouraging. In 1970, about 47 percent of US households included children. The 2020 figure is 27 percent. In 1970, less than 20 percent of US households were comprised of individuals living alone, as opposed to about 28 percent in 2020. If you are a numbers nerd, have at it – you can peruse the 1970 Census data here.
Much has changed in a half-century. Households are smaller today because there are fewer children. Divorce rates have increased and birth rates have declined. The US is more ethnically and racially diverse due to immigration. Church attendance imploded from 1970 to 2020. Social cohesion is fading fast. America has become a conflicted nation, riven by all manner of divisions, with the punditry occasionally bloviating about the possibility of a civil war between left and right. That is silly. The country will subdivide itself before something like that happens again. Also, the national debt is 125 percent of GDP, and people are less well off (adjusted for inflation) than they were in 1970.
It is beyond the capability of most people to do anything about this in the short term. The rot is systemic and woke indoctrination is approaching a saturation point. However, if we can take it upon ourselves to put down our smartphones, tablets and computers, subordinate creature comforts to getting along with our fellow human beings, spend more time with family and friends and invest in building compatible communities, all that could soon enough become the “in” thing to do.
That is how our forebears did it, before the lust for lucre and those pesky electronic devices took over.
Let’s give it a try.
Louis T. March has a background in government, business and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Image Credit: Pexels
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