Sunday, December 12, 2010

The (stats) scoop on Thanksgiving

The travel:

11.2 percent is the amount by which travel is expected to increase in Southern California this year compared with last, according to data from AAA of Southern California.

3.25 million Southern Californians will travel for the holiday, with more than 90 percent of those travelers choosing to drive to their holiday destination.

The food:

13.8 pounds of turkey are consumed by the average American each year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

242 million turkeys were raised in the United States in 2010, down 2 percent from the prior year. While the total number of birds is down in 2010, the total value is expected to be higher, with forecasted sales of $4.1 billion. San Diego county produced more than a million dollars worth of poultry in 2009.

735 million pounds is the estimated production level for U.S. grown cranberries in 2010.

5.2 pounds of sweet potatoes is the average consumption per person in the United States, though no stats are available on how many are baked, fried, or made into pies.

1.9 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were grown by major sweet potato producing states in 2009. North Carolina led the nation (940 million pounds of sweet potatoes), followed by California (592 million pounds), and Louisiana (162 million pounds).

1 billion pounds of pumpkins were grown in the United States in 2009. California accounted for more than 100 million pounds. San Diego County’s pumpkin growing, however, is relatively low. In 2009 the county grew 4,400 tons of squash, which includes, but is not limited, to pumpkins.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Scary stats and fun facts for Halloween 2010

24.3 pounds: Americans consumed, on average, 24.3 pounds of candy per person in 2009. Candy consumption was down to 23.8 pounds per capita in 2008, but apparently the prolonged recession didn’t weaken the American sweet tooth for long, and consumption bounced back up in 2009. The lowest average during the decade was in 2001 at 23.6 pounds per capita. (And we wonder why there's an obesity epidemic?)

18 percent: Nearly one in five adults (18%) claims to have seen or been in the presence of a ghost, according to survey results released today from the Pew Research Center.

366,000 little ghouls and goblins: 366,000 is the estimated number of potential trick-or-treaters (children age 5-13) in San Diego County in 2010, up 5,000 from 2009. Of course, many other children — older than 13, and younger than 5 — also go trick-or-treating. The national estimate is 36 million potential trick-or-treaters in the United States in 2009. That number is up 190,000 from a year earlier.

1.07 million doorbells to ring: In 2010 San Diego trick-or-treaters have roughly 1.07 million households to choose from when asking for candy. San Diego accounts for approximately 1 out of every 100 homes in the United States. The U.S. estimate is 111.3 million in 2009.

1 billion pounds: In 2009 there were one BILLION pounds of pumpkins produced in the United States, according to the USDA. California accounted for more than 100 million pounds of pumpkins grown in 2009. San Diego County’s pumpkin growing, however, is relatively low. In 2009 the county grew 4,400 tons of squash, which includes, but is not limited, to pumpkins.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The hefty toll of the obesity epidemic

Obesity rates are going up, up, up.

Today, Colorado has the nation’s lowest rate of adult obesity, at 18.6 percent, followed by Washington DC at 19.7 percent. California ranks 17, tied with Alaska, with an estimated 24.8 percent of adults in the obese category. The nation’s highest rates of obesity are in the southeast, with Louisiana (33%) and Mississippi (34%) topping the charts, according to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Compare this with data from 1990, and the picture becomes quite alarming. In 1990 ten states had obesity rates below 10 percent. Today none do. In 1990 no states had obesity rates above 15 percent. Today none have rates below 15 percent.

According to the CDC, obesity is “defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater.BMI is calculated from a person's weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.”

These obesity-related diseases carry a hefty price tag. Estimates in 2000 put obesity-related health care costs in California at $7.7 billion dollars, and the national cost at $75 billion. According to more recent projections from United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention, if current trends continue costs may reach as high $318 billion in the next eight years. Even if rates stay steady at their current high levels the report finds that “the U.S. could save an estimated $820 per adult in health care costs by 2018 ? a savings of almost $200 billion dollars.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, obesity is strongly correlated with physical activity. States where a high proportion of commuters walk, run, or bike to work have some of the nation’s lowest obesity rates. For example, nationwide about 3.4 percent of commuters walk or bike as their primary mode of commute to work. In Colorado, with the nation’s lowest obesity rate, the walk-or-bike rate is 4.2 percent - 25 percent higher than the national average. In Washington DC with the nation’s second lowest obesity rate, the walk-or-bike rate is 13.7 percent. Conversely, commuters in the three states with the highest levels of obesity (Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee) are only about half as likely to walk or bike to work as the national average.

For original publication, please see:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Recession ages the labor force

The sour economy may have discouraged many job seekers into giving up the job hunt for now, but that is not the case for those age 55 and older. While labor force participation rates have fallen across most age groups, rates have actually increased for those age 55 and older. In fact, even with higher unemployment rates, the total number of U.S. workers age 55 and older has actually increased in the past two years, while those age 16-19 have suffered the greatest employment losses.

It is worth noting, however, that working at older ages is not an entirely new trend in the United States. In the 1960s and early 1970s the majority of men age 55 and older were in the workforce. That proportion did not dip below 50 percent until 1975, reached its bottom in 1993, and has been increasing since that time. According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics labor force participation in 1993 was 29 percent for men and women age 55 and older. That figure has risen to more than 40 percent today.

This trend toward longer work-life is driven by longer life expectancy, less secure retirement, and also by job satisfaction. Surveys of the population in Japan, with some of the world's highest rates of labor force participation in older populations, report that half of workers age 60 to 69 reported staying in the workforce because "working is conducive to improved health." This may be more true in today's knowledge-based economy than ever before, as working provides social connections that may fade in retirement.

Nevertheless, older workers tend to earn less than their younger counterparts. For example, workers age 65 and older make, on average, $90 less per week than those in other age groups.

With the aging of the Baby Boom population leading to rapid growth in the oldest age groups, coupled with higher rates of labor force participation, the United States can expect considerable competition in the job market for the foreseeable future. On the positive side, a higher rate of labor force participation means that companies may have an easier time retaining a workforce with many years of experience. Older workers, on the other hand, will need to keep skills sharp in order to overcome the wage gap.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Demographic Trends in San Diego: What Planners Can Expect in 2010

... article originally appeared in The Planning Journal, Spring 2010

Population Growth 1910-2010
In the past 100 years, the San Diego Region (18 cities and unincorporated county) has grown from a small city of 60,000 people to a thriving metropolitan area of 3 million. In San Diego’s early years, Census figures show that the county’s population nearly doubled every ten years from 1910 to 1960. Between 1960 and 1990 growth slowed to an average increase of approximately 33 percent every ten years. Growth slowed again in the 1990s, with increases averaging less than 15 percent in each of the past two decades.

Migration Patterns
Migration was the primary driver of population growth in San Diego’s early years. Historically, most growth in Southern California was a result of in-migration from other parts of the United States and from other countries around the world. However, according to a recent study released by the University of Southern California Population Dynamics Research Group, that trend has shifted statewide, with most of the population now being, in the words of the study authors, “homegrown” (i.e. born in California). San Diego, however, lags behind the state in this trend, with 52 percent of residents having been born outside of California, according to 2008 data from the American Community Survey.

The 2010 Census short-form does not include a question about place of birth or place of residence five years ago, as prior long-form survey questionnaires did. However, information on 2010 population characteristics provides concrete data against which migration trends can be measured. For example, knowing the 2000 Census population characteristics of a region, and the survival rate and fertility rate of the population, demographers can determine what the population in 2010 could look like in the absence of any migration. Comparing that 2010 hypothetical projection against actual 2010 Census data provides useful insights into which groups moved into or out of a community during the decade. Thus, the 2010 Census population data will provide a key benchmark for measuring migration trends.

With respect to local planning, the key point to note in migration trends is that "the future is us." The people we are planning for are ourselves, our neighbors, and our children. The years of double-digit population growth due to large in-flows of migrants appear to be over, at least for now.

Age StructureThe median age in San Diego increased from 31 years in 1990 to 33 years in 2000 and is estimated to be 35 years in 2009. 2010 Census data will likely show a median age in the mid-30s. While this may not sound like much of a change, the underlying age structure changes are dramatic. Between 1990 and 2000 the county's young population (residents under age 18) grew by 112,700, compared with population growth of only 40,600 in the population age 65 and older. This means that there were nearly three additional children in the county for every additional senior during the 1990s. In the ten years since the 2000 Census all indicators point to a reversal of that trend, with slightly more growth in the senior population than in the population under age 18.

The population is growing across all age groups, but this trend toward an aging population is here to stay. An aging population will result in changing needs and preferences for the local population. For example, older residents may have different residential structure type preferences than college students or families with children. With respect to transportation planning, traffic patterns may change as a result of more off-peak travel by retired residents. These are just a few specific examples of a much broader issue. Planners should be aware of their community's aging population needs as they update public facilities plans, transportation plans, zoning ordinances, and other plans.

2010 and Beyond
The demographic characteristics of the San Diego Region will continue to evolve over time. San Diego is transitioning from a history of high-volume in-migration, to a more “homegrown” population. The future we plan for is our own. Each generation of residents living here today enjoys longer life expectancy Longer life expectancy means that much of the region’s future population growth will be in the oldest age groups. The 2010 Census will provide a clear snapshot of the region’s changing demographic characteristics and will provide planners with plenty of food for thought for the decade ahead.