Working in America: New Tables Detail Demographics of Work Experience

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By: Braedyn Kromer and David Howard

More than seven in 10 people of traditional working age (16 to 64 years old) worked in 2014; for people 65 and over, at least one in five had worked in the past 12 months. In fact, 12.4 percent of people 70 and over continued to work.

Of these older workers, many worked full time, year round; nearly half of workers age 65 to 69 and nearly a third of workers 70 and over worked full time, year round. Among workers 65 and over, men worked longer hours each week than women; 57.6 percent of men compared with 45.5 percent of women 65 and over clocked in 35 or more hours per week.

For the first time, these findings are available from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey through American FactFinder. A variety of interesting statistics across a number of geographies are available from two new tables. The first table (B23026) details the number of weeks worked per year and hours worked per week for men and women 65 and over (see figure 1).

Distribution of Hourse Worked by Sex for Workers 65 Years and Over, United States: 2014

The second table (B23027) details full-time, year-round work experience by age. Prior to the 2014 American Community Survey, data users could only see tabulated work experience information for the 16- to 64-year-old population as a whole. With this year’s data release, users are now able to obtain work experience data for detailed age groups, including the proportion of the population who worked in the past 12 months and the percentage of workers who worked full time, year round (see figures 2 and 3).

Proportion of the Population That Worked in the Past 12 Months (Workers) By Age, United States: 2014


Percent of Workers Who Worked full-time year round by Age, United States: 2014The statistics shown above are also available at a number of geographies. For example, the two maps below show full-time, year-round work status for workers age 16 to 24 (figure 4) and 65 and over (figure 5) by state. The proportion of workers 16 to 24 working full time, year round in each state ranged from 18.9 percent to 39.7 percent, with Rhode Island having one of the lowest and Alaska having one of the highest proportions. For workers 65 and over, the proportion of workers who worked full time, year round in each state ranged from 29.2 percent to 52.9 percent, with Maine having one of the lowest and Washington, D.C., having one of the highest proportions.

Workers 16 to 24 years old who worked full time, year round in the US: 2014

Workers 65 years and over who worked full time year round in the US in 2014

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Statisticians: A Goodness of Fit Test

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By One or More Census Bureau Statisticians

In honor of World Statistics Day, let’s talk about statisticians. While lots of people use statistics in their jobs every day (such as sports writers, stock analysts, weather reporters, biologists, engineers, economists, sociologists, epidemiologists, practicing physicians, nuclear physicists and lots more), only 45,145 or so (standard deviation 2,150) describe themselves as “statisticians” on the American Community Survey.

Who are these number crunchers? It seems like we should look at some numbers.

Statisticians are equally likely to be male or female. Their mean age is statistically indistinguishable from the labor force (40.8 years and a sizeable margin of error, compared with 41.4 years). Yet that mean is misleading, as they so often can be. Referring to the attached histogram, the reader will discover statisticians are concentrated far more heavily in their late 20s and early 30s than the general labor force population (Figure 1).


As part of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce, statisticians have high educational attainment — 93.0 percent have a bachelor’s degree or more (59.5 percent have an advanced degree) among 25- to 64-year-olds compared with 35.1 percent of the comparable total labor force. They have correspondingly high earnings (median earnings of full-time, year-round statisticians of $83,461 compared with $43,545 for the comparable total working population). Statisticians also have a high probability of employment, with an employment-to-population ratio of 92.5 in 2014, compared with 68.0 for the working-age population.

And what use do they find for their statistics? Well, about one quarter of them work in government (and not all at the Census Bureau!), plus all sorts of industries employ them. All told, about nine in 10 statisticians work in 10 major industries (Figure 2).WSDRS2

Perhaps most interesting to some readers, only 54.5 percent of these often young, well-employed, highly educated men and women are presently married — barely more than half. About one third have never been married at all.

Enjoy World Statistics Day.

Posted in About the Census Bureau | 2 Comments

Women Now at the Head of the Class, Lead Men in College Attainment

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Written By: Kurt Bauman and Camille Ryan

In 1940, under 5 percent of the U.S. population held a bachelor’s degree. Men, at 5.5 percent, were more likely than women at 3.8 percent, to have a college education. Although the 1.7 percentage point gap may appear small, it was big relative to the portion of women with bachelor’s degrees (it would have taken a 45 percent increase among women for them to match men).

Now, nearly 75 years after the Census Bureau began collecting these statistics, the educational attainment of our population has increased to 30 percent -and the gender balance has shifted. For the first time since measurement began in 1940, women were more likely than men to have a bachelor’s degree.

Figure 1 shows how things have changed in the last decade (from 2005 to 2014). Data from the American Community Survey show that in 2005, 28.5 percent of men had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 26.0 percent of women. In 2014, the percentage for men was 29.9, while that for women was 30.2, marking the first year that women’s college attainment was statistically higher than men’s college attainment.


The trend toward higher education started with younger women. A 2004 publication noted that since 1996, young women age 25 to 29 have had higher college attainment rates than young men. However, the pattern for older men and women is different. Figure 2 shows that among women aged 25 to 34, 37.5 percent have completed a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared with 29.5 percent of men. Among women 65 and older, 20.3 percent had a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30.6 percent of men.


Figure 3 shows how women’s attainment stands relative to men across the 50 states. In some states, such as Alaska, North Dakota and Mississippi, a greater portion of women than men have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. In other states, like Washington, Idaho and Utah, men are more likely to have a college degree.


What will the future bring? In the near future, women’s college attainment will continue to grow relative to men’s attainment, simply as a result of younger people replacing older generations. On the other hand, there is some evidence that young men may have started to keep up with young women. In the past five years, college attainment of people aged 25 to 34 has increased about as much for both women and men (2.4 percentage points for men, 2.6 percentage points for women – these estimates are not statistically different from one another).

For more information on education products, including data on school enrollment, educational attainment and field of bachelor’s degree, visit the Census Bureau’s education home page.

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Poverty Rates Down in 12 States, Median Income Up in 16 States: New Data from the American Community Survey

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Written By: Kayla Fontenot, Poverty Statistics Branch and Kirby Posey, Income Statistics Branch

In case you missed it, last week, the Census Bureau released the official poverty rate and median household income estimates for the United States from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement. We also released estimates from the American Community Survey with information on these topics and more for communities of 65,000 or more. The American Community Survey is the recommended data source for subnational estimates on these topics. The poverty rate and other income statistics from the American Community Survey help states and local communities evaluate current economic conditions and aid in the identification of areas and population groups that may require targeted assistance.

Between 2013 and 2014, poverty rates declined in 12 states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. The poverty rate increased in one state, Alaska. Changes in poverty rates between 2013 and 2014 were not statistically significant in the other 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Mississippi’s poverty rate fell from 24.0 percent in 2013 to 21.5 percent in 2014, a decline of 2.5 percentage points. This was among the largest percentage-point decline of states.


Across the 50 states, New Hampshire’s poverty rate was the lowest, and Mississippi and New Mexico had the two highest rates.


Child poverty trends between 2013 and 2014 were similar, as child poverty rates fell in 10 states. In Arkansas, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington, poverty for children under age 18 declined. Poverty rates for children increased in Alaska, New Hampshire and North Dakota. In the other 37 states and the District of Columbia, the changes in child poverty rates were not statistically significant.


The American Community Survey also shows that real median household income increased in 16 states between 2013 and 2014 and decreased in one state, Kentucky. North Dakota’s median household income increased by 4.5 percent between 2013 and 2014. It was among the largest increases in the nation. Changes in median household income between 2013 and 2014 were not statistically significant in 33 other states and the District of Columbia.

Median household incomes ranged across the 50 states from $73,971 in Maryland to $39,680 in Mississippi.


Income and poverty are just two of the many topics included in the annual American Community Survey statistics. This latest release includes statistics for geographies with populations of 65,000 or more. The American Community Survey is the most comprehensive, nationwide survey that provides information on a variety of topics, including education, commuting and homeownership.

For additional information regarding income and poverty, please visit the Census Bureau’s income and poverty home page at

If you would like to learn more about the American Community Survey including other topics covered, please visit

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Census Bureau Releases 2014 Supplemental Poverty Measure

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Written By: Kathleen Short

Today, the Census Bureau, with support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released its fifth annual report, The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2014. This measure extends information provided by the official poverty measure by explicitly including benefits from many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals.

According to the report, the supplemental poverty measure rate was 15.3 percent last year, which was higher than the official measure of 14.9 percent for 2014. Both the supplemental measure rate and the official poverty rate were not significantly different from the corresponding rates in 2013.

There has been a continuing discussion about the best approach to measure income and poverty in the United States since the publication of the first official U.S. poverty estimates in 1964. In 2009, an interagency group asked the Census Bureau, in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to develop a supplemental measure to allow for an improved understanding of the economic well-being of American families and the way that federal policies affect those living in poverty.

The official measure only looks at pre-tax money income. Income for the supplemental measure adds the value of noncash benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches, housing assistance and refundable tax credits like the earned income tax credit. Additionally, supplemental poverty measure resources deduct from income necessary expenses for critical goods and services such as taxes, childcare and commuting expenses, and contributions toward the cost of medical care and health insurance premiums.

The important contribution that the supplemental poverty measure provides is allowing us to gauge the effectiveness of tax credits and transfers in reducing poverty. It can also show the effect of necessary expenses that families face such as paying taxes, or work-related, and medical out-of-pocket expenses on their ability to meet basic needs. For example, the SPM report shows that:

  • Without Social Security benefits, the supplemental poverty rate overall would have been 8.2 percentage points higher (or 23.5 percent rather than 15.3 percent). This represented about 26 million individuals.
  • People 65 and older had a supplemental poverty rate of 14.4 percent, equating to 6.6 million people. Excluding Social Security from income would result in a supplemental poverty measure rate of 50 percent.
  • Not including refundable tax credits (the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable portion of the child tax credit) in resources, the poverty rate for all people would have been higher, 18.4 percent rather than 15.3 percent.
  • For children, not accounting for refundable tax credits would have resulted in a poverty rate of 23.8 percent rather than 16.7 percent. This difference represents 5.2 million children.
  • Taking account of other noncash benefits also lowered poverty rates, for example, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits lowered the poverty rates by 1.5 percentage points or almost 5 million people.
  • The figure shows the effect of various elements of the supplemental poverty measure on poverty rates for 2013 and 2014. Items with an asterisk had a statistically different effect on supplemental poverty measure rates between the two years.


  • Compared to 2013, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Unemployment Insurance lowered supplemental poverty measure rates less, while refundable tax credits had a larger effect, reducing poverty rates more, in 2014.
  • Medical Out-of-Pocket Expenses had a smaller effect on supplemental poverty measure rates in 2014 than in the previous year, increasing the number of poor by 11 million compared to 12 million in 2013.
  • The report shows changes in poverty rates for selected groups from 2013 to 2014. While for most groups there were no changes in supplemental poverty measure rates across the two years, there were declines for children, those 65 years of age and over, the native born, people in homes without mortgages, and those residing in the Midwest.
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