Friday, October 30, 2015

Scary stats for Halloween 2015


There were an estimated 41.2 million potential trick-or-treaters (children age 5-14*) in the United States in 2014, unchanged from 2013.

But Halloween is clearly not just a children's holiday. 157 million Americans of all ages will be celebrating Halloween this year, with total spending reaching nearly $7 billion.

The average American adult will spend $74 on decorations, costumes and candy, down a bit from $78 last year, and well below the peak of $80 per person in 2012.

For those who will dress up to celebrate the holiday:
The most popular children's costume: Princess.
The most popular adult costume: Witch.
Should we read anything into that dichotomy?

The breakout costume star of 2015 is... "Star Wars character," which didn't crack the top 10 last year, but ranks 5th this year.

Sources: National Retail Federation and U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features
*Note: Of course, many other children - older than 14, and younger than 5 - also go trick-or-treating.


America's candy consumption in 2010 was nearly 25 pounds per person. If this candy were entirely Snickers bars, it would be the equivalent of nearly 4 candy bars, per week, per person. The volume of candy consumed, much like home prices, peaked in the middle of the decade, dipped at the start of the recession in 2008, and increased slowly each year since then. Another scary fact is that 2010 is the last year for which we'll have this data. Budget cuts led to the termination of the Current Industrial Reporting program.

American confectionery manufacturers produce about 35 million pounds of candy corn each year. That adds up to 9 billion candy corns - or about 30 kernels per person in the U.S.

For Halloween itself, Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy, spending nearly $2.6 billion for treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Industrial Reports, Confectionery: 2010National Confectioners AssociationDaily Infographic 2011 and 2012


According to Redfin (and contrary to what one might guess) homes near cemeteries sell for more, per square foot, than homes not near cemeteries.
"Redfin analyzed the price of homes less than 50 feet from a cemetery, and compared those to the price of homes less than 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 yards away. The numbers indicate that on average, homes near cemeteries are slightly smaller, but sell for more per square foot. On average, homes closest to cemeteries sold for $162 dollars per square foot, whereas the homes located more than 500 yards away sold for $145 per square foot."
But these homes were on the market for longer than their non-cemetery peers...


U.S. pumpkin production totaled 1.3 billion pounds in 2014, with a value of $145 million. In that year 50,900 acres of farmland were harvested for pumpkins. Those figures are likely to drop in 2015 as bad weather resulted in pumpkin crop losses.

Six states are pumpkin hotspots: Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan each accounted for more than 100 million pounds of pumpkins grown in 2010.

Canadian farmers grew more than 64,700 tonnes of pumpkins, valued at $23.2 million.

Sources: USDA National Agricultural Statistics and Statistics Canada Hallowe’en... by the numbers

Monday, June 1, 2015

2015 hurricane season demography

The 2015 north Atlantic hurricane season has begun...

First - some new tools:
The Bureau of Labor statistics now has an online hurricane mapper tool that provides wage,employment, and establishment data for potential flood zones.
Info at:

Second - the demographics:
More than 83 million people in the U.S. live in states, from Texas to North Carolina, that are at high risk for hurricanes, according to the most recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Within those states, nearly 37 million people live in coastal communities at high risk of hurricanes, an area covering 179,000 square miles.

Hurricanes occasionally strike farther north, but despite hurricane Sandy's damage in 2012, such events are considerably less common than hurricanes in the southern states. Yet that does not make the damage any less catastropic. Early estimates place the damage from Hurricane Sandy at about 400,000 housing units damaged or destroyed, the majority of which were in New York (more than 300,000), New Jersey (approximately 70,000), and Connecticut (approximately 3,000).

While Sandy was more recent, and turned the lights off for more people, hurricane Katrina left more fatalities and damaged homes in her wake.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that in the summer of 2005 hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma damaged "more than one million housing units across five states." Of the damaged homes 515,000 were in Louisiana, 220,000 in Mississippi, and nearly 140,000 in Texas.

A full five years later, nearly 15 percent of the properties still had substantial visible repair needs, and 11 percent no longer contained a permanent residential structure. In other words, more than one quarter of the homes damaged in the 2005 hurricane season were either completely lost or were still in need of repair five years later.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love and marriage (observations for Valentine's Day 2015)

Valentine image source
In honor of St. Valentine...
an update of last year's popular "Love, Marriage, and a Baby Carriage," and the very popular 2013 "Love and Marriage" 

Some startling observations about love and marriage in the U.S.:
  • Marriages are lasting longer
  • People are getting married older but "sooner"
  • Condom sales are highest in February
  • Home pregnancy test kit sales are highest in March


Men and women in the U.S. are single longer than ever before. The average age at first marriage for women has risen to an all-time high of 26.6, and men are waiting (almost) until they turn 30.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Despite rising age at first marriage, analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau which shows that while age at first marriage has risen, life expectancy has increased more rapidly, so people are getting married "sooner" even though they get married older.

While average age at first marriage has been increasing, and it is incredibly difficult to get an accurate measurement of the rate of divorce, by all accounts divorce rates are falling. One measure shows that the rate fell from 4 divorces per 1,000 population in 2000 to 3.6 per 1,000 in 2011. By Census Bureau measures, divorce rates peaked in the years changes in divorce laws that occurred in the mid 1970s, but then leveled off and fell slightly. Some of this trend can be attributed to lower marriage rates (fewer marriages lead to fewer divorces), but some is likely a result of people waiting longer to get married in the first place.

Longer life expectancy and lower divorce rates mean that marriage duration has (on average) increased in recent years. 80 percent of marriages last at least 5 years, and 68 percent last 10 years or more, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on the National Survey of Family Growth (2006-2010). This is an increase from the 2002 survey, in which 78 percent of marriages last at least 5 years and two thirds last 10 years or more.


According to many news sources, condom sales are highest in February (in the US and in India, for example). However, a National Institutes of Health study shows that increased condom sales do not necessarily translate to increased condom usage, which might explain the next phenomenon...

Nielsen research notes that sales of home pregnancy tests are higher March than any other time of the year:
Perhaps as a result of Valentine’s Day romance, more pregnancy and infertility test kits are sold approximately six weeks after Valentine’s Day than at any other time of the year. Consumers spend more than $15 million*on pregnancy and infertility test kits during the second, third and fourth weeks of March, with the third week of March ranking number one** in sales.
Notes: *Three weeks ending March 24, 2007 showed total sales of $15.4 million for pregnancy and infertility test kits in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores, including Wal-Mart. **One week ending March 24, 2007 showed total sales of $5.2 million for pregnancy and infertility test kits in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores, including Wal-Mart.

Despite the sales data, births are actually highest in late summer and early autumn, as a result of pregnancies in late autumn and early winter of the prior calendar year. This trend, known as a "seasonal cycle in fecundability" is well documented in the scientific literature.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Valentine: data we love


To satisfy millions of sweet-toothed customers, the NECCO candy company produces approximately 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts conversation hearts each day for 11 months of the year.

This adds up more than 8 billion heart-shaped candies annually.

Data from the Census Bureau show that U.S. chocolate companies produced $13.5 billion worth of chocolate in 2011, and a 2009 study from Nielsen research showed that Valentines week accounts for more than 5 percent of annual chocolate sales.

Where does all of that chocolate come from?

Côte d'Ivoire leads global production, followed by Ghana and Indonesia.
Source: GeoLounge


Valentine's Day spending in the United States is expected to top $18.9 billion, according to new survey results released by the National Retail Federation. Spending is expected to be highest on jewelry ($3.9 billion) followed by $3.5 billion on an "evening out."

That works out to $142 per person celebrating the holiday. This is more than a 6 percent increase over spending in 2014, and the highest in the survey's decade-long history.

And Americans will exchange 180 million Valentine cards and 196 million roses.


U.S. producers sold more than $16.7 million in cut roses in 2013 (estimated wholesale value for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales) according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Floriculture Crops 2013 Summary.

To support holiday spending, shoppers can choose from more than 23,000 jewelry stores and more than 14,000 florists nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns survey.


And an interactive map allows users to explore Valentine's customs around the world.
Interactive Valentines Map

Friday, January 23, 2015

Geek jokes

If you follow me on Twitter (@DataGeekB) you know that I post a geek joke almost every Friday afternoon. Here are a few of my favorite statistics jokes, programmer jokes, and other geeky jokes (in no particular order):

There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, those who don’t understand binary, and those who didn’t expect this joke to be in base 3.

Did you hear about the programmer who got stuck in shower for a week? Blamed shampoo instructions: Lather, rinse, repeat.

Q: Why are open source statistical programming languages the best?
A: Because they R.

A programmer is going to the grocery store. Spouse asks the programmer to buy bread at market and if the market has eggs get a dozen. The programmer returns with 12 loaves.

Yo momma is so mean, she has no standard deviation!

Q: Did you hear about the statistician who was thrown in jail?
A: She now has zero degrees of freedom.

The best time to show a bar chart is at happy hour.

The best time to show a pie chart is at a bakers' convention.

Statisticians can't ever go bankrupt. They have means.

There is no truth to the allegation that statisticians are mean. They are just your standard normal deviates.

Q: Why don't statisticians like to model new clothes?
A: Lack of fit.

Q: Did you hear the one about the statistician??
A: Probably....

Statistics is a science that proclaims, with confidence, "The average human has one ovary!"

Statistics is the only science in which you can have you head in an oven, your feet on ice, and say that, on average, you feel fine.

Q: Why did the statistician cross the freeway?
A: To get to the other side of the median.

Yo mama is so mean, she has no standard deviation!

Q: Why do statisticians need to stay away from children's toys?
A: Because they regress so easily.

A statistician confidently tried to cross a river that was 1 meter deep on average. She drowned.

An infinite number of mathematicians go to a bar. The 1st mathematician says "Gimme 1 beer." The 2nd asks for 1/2 beer, the 3rd asks for 1/4...
The bartender pours 2 beers.
All the mathematicians complain: "That's all you're giving us?! How will we get drunk that way?"
Bartender replies: "Come on. Know your limits!"

There are 2 types of people in the world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data...

Q: How many professors does it take to replace a lightbulb?
A: 1: With 8 RAs, 2 programmers, 3 post-docs & a secretary to help.

Q: How many graduate students does it take to replace a lightbulb?
A: Only one: But it takes six years.