Monday, December 19, 2011

Festive facts for the holidays

The winter holiday season often means travel, shopping, and eating...
Here are the numbers behind the holidays:

Types of Christmas trees
purchased in 2011, based on data
from the Christmas Tree Association
and author's calculations
Americans will purchase 34.5 million Christmas trees this year. More than one third of those trees will be artificial, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen for the American Christmas Tree Association.

The survey "also found 11 percent of U.S. households who will display a real tree will also display an artificial tree, recognizing a growing trend toward celebrating Christmas with more than one Christmas tree."

The U.S. also produces $1.5 billion worth of candles each year. Those candles come in handy for Hanukkan, Kwanzaa, and Christmas celebrations.

New Orleans Holiday Travel (author's photo)
91.9 million Americans (about one third of the total US population) will travel at least 50 miles from home over the winter holiday season (Dec 23 - Jan 2). This represents a 1.4 percent increase in total holiday travel, compared with 2010, according to an annual report released by AAA.

Auto travel accounts for the lion's share (90 percent) of those trips. Despite notoriously long lines at the airport, only 8 percent of holiday travelers plan to fly, and the remaining 2 percent will travel via train, bus, or other mode.

About half of long-distance travelers (those going 50 miles or more) will make a day trip of it. Travelers who plan to stay overnight at their destinations will spend an average of four nights away from home.

Most retail stores do the bulk of their yearly business in December. For retail stores overall, 14 percent of annual sales occur in the last month of the year. For jewelry stores, December makes up 20 percent of annual sales.

Total retail sales for the holiday season are expected to reach nearly $470 billion. And for those who want to avoid the malls, $34 billion of December 2010 retail sales were online or mail-order.

Photo courtesy of State Library and Archives of Florida
$2.5 billion worth of toys (including stuffed toys, dolls, puzzles, and electric trains) were imported to the U.S. from China between January and September 2011. China also leads the pack in U.S. imports of ice skates ($17.7 million) and basketballs ($38.9 million).

Within the U.S. there are about 8,000 workers across 579 locations that primarily manufacture toys and games. Is it any surprise that Santa needs 8,000 helpers?

If you're making latkes for Hanukkah, chances are the potatoes come from Idaho or Washington. 50 percent of the nation's 'taters were grown in those two states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

U.S. farmers produced 2.01 billion bushels of wheat - crucial for making Christmas cookies - in 2011. Kansas, Montana and North Dakota accounted for about a third of the nation's wheat production.

But while Americans eat plenty of cookies, you might as well hold the eggnog. Nationwide consumption averages only half a cup per capita, according to figures from Indiana University.

Candy canes might be a holiday staple, but chocolate is a nearly universal gift. The winter holidays represent the biggest boxed chocolate selling season as 70 percent of adults in the U.S. give or receive a box of chocolates during the holidays.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Americans staying put

In addition to rising unemployment and declining retail sales, the recession also has more people staying put in their current residence. According to statistics from the 2010 American Community Survey, only 15 percent of Americans lived in a different home a year ago, down from more than 16 percent of the population moving in 2005. According to the Brookings Institution fewer U.S. residents moved in 2010 than in any year since 1948.*

The map shows the proportion of population that lived in a different house the prior year (data 2006-2010), with the darkest colors representing areas with the highest proportion of people who stayed in the same house, and lightest colors representing areas with the most movers. Not surprisingly, given the housing bubble, Arizona, Nevada had relatively high rates of movers, while rural areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama had few movers.
Percent of the population who reported living in the "same house" the prior year (2008-2010).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, author's calculations
This changing migration dynamic has important repercussions for states like California, which historically were high in-migration states. Despite California's reputation as being a state of newcomers, in 2010 a majority (54 percent) of residents were California-born. (U.S. Census Bureau, Lifetime Mobility in the United States). As a result of this change, Dowell Myers asks in his article "The New Homegrown Majority in California"
"How is the stance taken by voters with regard to taxation and services different if California is growing because of migration by outsiders rather than growing from California-born residents? What does the shift from a reliance on high migration to a homegrown majority mean for today's taxpayers?"
California is not yet approaching the level of "homegrown" population seen in states like Louisiana (79 percent) or Michigan (77 percent). But neither is it like Florida, Alaska, Arizona, or Washington DC, all of which have 60 percent or more of their population born out-of-state.

*Note: Brookings puts the number of movers at 35.1 million, but I pulled the figures from the American Community Suvey for 2010 and found more than 45 million, so take the "lowest since 1948" quote with the proverbial grain of salt.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey (2010),
"Selected Social Characteristics in the United States" - downloaded 12/9/11

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who does the housework?

Earlier this year two researchers, Dr. Kristen Myers and Ilana Demantas, completed a study of the housework roles of unemployed men. Dementas interviewed twenty out of work men, and found that they were likely to have increased their housework responsibilities substantially during their period of unemployment. While Dementas' work may reflect changing gender roles and responsibilities, the sample size on the study is small.

Moreover, despite substantial gains in gender equity (including the fact that women's educational attainment is now at parity with men's) there remains a sharp and continuing disparity in unpaid household labor when analyzed in aggregate at the national level.

Sources: 2010 American Time Use Survey, author's calculations
While 84 percent of women do some form of housework on a typical day, only 67 percent of men do, according to 2010 statistics (from the American Time Use Survey).

Across the population, women do, on average, 50-70 percent more housework than men, before childcare is counted. In childcare, the differences are even more dramatic. Women perform twice as much childcare related work as men, on average.

The 2010 results are consistent with findings from prior years in American Time Use Survey.