What, exactly, do Americans do all day?

Hanging a clock-editedLast week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released results from the 2013 American Time Use Survey. This survey, administered every year for the last decade, asks respondents–selected from people who have recently completed the Current Population Survey–to keep a diary of how they spent their time for a full 24 hour period. These data allow us to understand something about the “average” day not only for the population overall, but also for various subgroups, such as the unemployed or elderly. As you read, consider: How helpful is information about the “average” respondent?

While there is a fair amount of data to mine, let’s start at the highest level, by looking at time use on an “average” weekday across all respondents:ATUS_piechartPerhaps most notable is the sheer amount of sleep people seem to be getting: apparently, a healthy 8.5 hours a night. Not bad!

…however. As detailed over at Wonkblog, it turns out that “sleeping” is what happens between getting into bed and getting out of bed, and also takes into account naps. This way of calculating sleep doesn’t differentiate between deep slumber and “dozing off to Netflix” (I know I’m not the only one).  Similarly, things like “reading in bed” could feasibly occur during these otherwise allocated sleep hours.

And though 99.9 percent of all respondents reported that they slept at some point in the previous 24 hours, the time reported for other activities is averaged across everyone in the survey, whether they did or did not report them in their time-use “diary”. This is where we need to pay attention to what we mean by “average”. Continue reading

The Line that Divides DC

No it’s not a party line.  It’s an almost perfectly straight line running north-south along 16th Street, passing through the White House, and then continuing along the Potomac River to the south.  It divides two very different sides of the DC area.

These graphs are a cross-section of the DC area that looks at how the city changes as you travel from the center to the periphery.  I’ve split the graphs into two sides based on the east-west dividing line.  You’ll notice the first one or two miles to the east are much like their western counterparts (this is essentially the area around Capitol Hill and the National Mall).  After that, the two sides diverge pretty dramatically.DCEW Continue reading

What’s Driving the Rise in High School Graduation Rates?

Much of the news that circulates regarding the state of education is not positive, but one trend that remains underreported is the significant rise in public high school graduation rates during the past decade. By the end of this month, around 85,000 high school seniors are expected to have graduated from Virginia’s public schools.That is nearly 8,000 more than would have been expected to graduate just a few years ago.
Virginia High School Graduation Rate Continue reading

Extended Families: Weapon against Child Poverty?

Children living in married parent families are less likely to live in or near poverty than children in unmarried (either single- or cohabiting) parent families. Some policy advocacy groups use this to argue that marriage is the “greatest weapon against child poverty” because of the additional economic and human capital marriage adds to a household, even though there is no clear agreement about the precise ways in which parent marital status and childhood poverty interact. In fact, critics of the marriage-as-remedy position argue that economic risk may play a part in both child poverty and in the reluctance of parents to marry. As a result, they argue that economic ­– not relational – measures are the keys to reducing poverty.

However, this concentrated focus on parent relationship status overlooks another form of family structure pertinent to the well-being of poor children: the residential extended family.  These structures may allow families to pool economic and human resources to care for children and ameliorate the effects of tough economic circumstances. In 2011, one in ten Virginia children lived in a residential extended family.

Figure 1 — Children Living in Residential Extended Families by Type of Family

Blog-REF All kids

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Children living with married parents can be poor, too

Drawing on our recent report, New Insights on Childhood Poverty, Annie and I published an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch over the weekend. In it we discussed the consequences of limiting the conversation about childhood poverty to children with single parents:

…focusing the conversation about childhood poverty exclusively on children of single parents renders invisible the largest group of children in economic insecurity: those whose parents have already taken a trip down the aisle. It turns out that the face of economic insecurity may, in contrast to the broader narrative, be a child supported by married parents.

As detailed in our report, one in three Virginia children live in economic insecurity. Almost half, the largest group, live with married parents.

Read the full op-ed here.

Metropolitan Cross-Sections: College Graduates

With input from Hamilton, I’ve been looking recently at how metropolitan areas change as one travels from the center to the periphery.  The following charts show the percent of the population 25 and older with bachelor’s degrees.  The graphs are based on concentric rings coming out from the center of downtown.  I’ve included reference maps with distances and put lines on the graphs to correspond to the circles on the map.

It’s important to note that this is for adults who are 25 and older.  While college towns have high numbers of educated residents and that shows up on the graphs, these numbers do not include actual undergraduate students or recent graduates.

Data for 1990 and 2000 comes from the long-form census.  Data for 2012 is from the American Community Survey’s 2008-2012 5-year estimates.  The census long form survey disappeared after the 2000 census, so questions that would have been on the long form (like education level) are now collected as part of the American Community Survey.

Washington, D.C.

DCba Continue reading

Home Construction: Running to Stand Still

New home construction rose over 23 percent in Virginia between 2012 and 2013, according to building permit data collected by the Census Bureau and the Weldon Cooper Center. In suburban counties, the number of new homes built during the past year increased much more than in urban localities, but construction levels still remain a fraction of those seen during the early 2000s housing boom.

 Homes Built Annually in the Mid Atlantic

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Click on arrows at bottom of slideshow to scroll through years

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Fostering a Better Future

Presentation1May 2014 is National Foster Care Month and provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the important role of foster care in the lives of so many children and youth across the country as well as in the Commonwealth. In 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell launched his “Virginia Adopts: Campaign for 1,000” initiative to match 1,000 children in foster care to 1,000 adoptive families, the target was successfully exceeded by finding permanent homes for 1,008 children. This year, Governor Terry McAuliffe also recognized May as Foster Care Month for the Commonwealth of Virginia and emphasized that “every child and youth in foster care deserves the security and opportunity for growth that a family can provide”.

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