How American Household Finances are Changing
Visualizing shifts in income, savings, debt, and spending
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Every year, Silicon Valley patiently waits for Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins to share her famous Internet Trends report.
The latest rendition came out two days ago. As usual, the 294-slide deck is a treasure trove of the the latest data on technology and internet trends.
But while the report is well-known as a barometer on the internet, it also features some high-level data on the U.S. economy that we found interesting. As a result, we used some of the most compelling slides to put together this week’s chart on how American household finances are changing – and we greatly thank Mary for doing the heavy lifting.
From Peak to Peak
In 2007, real median household income had a local peak of $58,149, and then fell off a cliff at the same time as the credit cycle, which reached its own peak in 2008 Q3 as the financial crisis set in.
Real median household income bottomed in 2012, and then debt followed in 2013.
Looking at the most recent year of data available, both categories are now back above pre-crisis highs. Real median household income has now surpassed its all-time record in 1999 – and total household debt has topped $13 trillion in 2018 Q1, more than $500 billion higher than its previous peak in 2008.
A Closer Look
While consumer debt is similar in terms of total size from a decade ago, the composition has changed considerably.
Mortgage debt, which makes up the vast majority of consumer debt, is still actually down from its 2008 peak by 4%. Replacing that is other forms of debt, including student loans:
|Non-Housing Debt||2008 Q3 ($T)||2018 Q1 ($T)||Change|
|Other Non-Housing Debt||$0.41||$0.39||-5%|
Note: it appears the data listed in this table is one quarter more recent than Meeker’s, which was represented in chart
Since 2008, student loan debt has surged by 131% – and auto loans by 52%. Mortgage debt, credit debt, and other non-housing debt have not yet crawled back to pre-crisis peaks.
Saving and Spending
Looking at the longer-term trend, Americans are borrowing more and saving fewer dollars.
In the 1970s, both rates were about the same as a percentage of income, falling in a range between 13-15%. Today, the savings rate is below 5%, and debt-to-annual income ratio has risen to 22%, according to Meeker.
What are American households spending money on?
|Pensions & Insurance||7%||8%||10%|
Notably, households are spending more on shelter and healthcare – meanwhile, the cost for food, entertainment, and apparel are decreasing over time.
The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019
Which innovations will dominate headlines in 2019? According to Bill Gates, watch for these 10 breakthrough technologies to change the world.
The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019
Gone are the days of turning stones into spears. With the advent of new technologies, we’ve learned to develop tools that not only make living faster and easier every day, but also improve the future of humanity as a whole.
Today’s Chart of the Week draws from the MIT Technology Review, which features Bill Gates’ predictions for the top 10 breakthrough inventions that will capture headlines in 2019.
Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies
1. Gut Probe in a Pill
These swallowable devices can detect and potentially prevent diseases that cause malnutrition and stunted growth in millions of children worldwide.
2. Custom Cancer Vaccines
Personalized cancer vaccines, targeting only the cancerous cells and leave healthy cells alone, could help ensure faster recovery times and pose fewer risks to patients.
3. Meat-free Burgers
Plant-based and lab-grown food products will ideally alleviate the environmental impact of the livestock industry.
4. Smooth-talking AI assistants
The AI assistants of the future will have even more human-like conversations to personally engage customers. Companies would see measurable benefits, with just one breakthrough here garnering a 5% jump in productivity.
5. Sanitation without sewers
Improperly drained sewage causes death in one out of every nine children. Sanitation that doesn’t require sewers would not only prevent exposure diseases but also help turn waste into useful products like fertilizer.
6. ECG on your wrist
While most medical ECGS have up to 12 nodes to detect abnormalities, today’s wearables typically have only one. An ECG on the wrist would help reduce the risk of heart disease by monitoring changes and patterns in daily life.
7. Robot Dexterity
Advancements in robotics will enable the natural dexterity required to complete a greater range of tasks, such as helping an ailing loved one out of bed, doing the laundry, or building toys.
8. Predicting Preemies
Premature births are the leading cause of death for children under five years old. Tests to detect the possibility of a premature birth could be available in doctors’ offices in as little as five years.
9. Carbon Dioxide Catcher
Carbon dioxide catchers filter out CO₂ from the air and capture it for other uses. These include synthetic fuel creation, CO₂ for soft drinks, and plant growth in greenhouses.
10. New-wave Nuclear Power
Traditional nuclear reactors produce ~1,000 megawatts (MW), while these proposed mini-reactors would produce tens of megawatts ─ making them safer, more stable, and more financially viable for potential users.
A Vision for a Better Future
The biggest takeaway?
Seven of the 10 breakthrough technologies stem from the healthtech sector.
While several inventions on this list are years away from becoming a reality, they continue to embody the vision and passion that humans share to create and explore.
How the Modern Consumer is Different
We all have a stereotypical image of the average consumer – but is it an accurate one? Meet the modern consumer, and what it means for business.
How the Modern Consumer is Different
There is a prevailing wisdom that says the stereotypical American consumer can be defined by certain characteristics.
Based on what popular culture tells us, as well as years of experiences and data, we all have an idea of what the average consumer might look for in a house, car, restaurant, or shopping center.
But as circumstances change, so do consumer tastes – and according to a recent report by Deloitte, the modern consumer is becoming increasingly distinct from those of years past. For us to truly understand how these changes will affect the marketplace and our investments, we need to rethink and update our image of the modern consumer.
A Changing Consumer Base
In their analysis, Deloitte leans heavily on big picture demographic and economic factors to help in summarizing the three major ways in which consumers are changing.
Here are three ways the new consumer is different than in years past:
1. Increasingly Diverse
In terms of ethnicity, the Baby Boomers are 75% white, while the Millennial generation is 56% white. This diversity also transfers to other areas as well, such as sexual and gender identities.
Not surprisingly, future generations are expected to be even more heterogeneous – Gen Z, for example, identifies as being 49% non-white.
2. Under Greater Financial Pressure
Today’s consumers are more educated than ever before, but it’s come at a stiff price. In fact, the cost of education has increased by 65% between 2007 and 2017, and this has translated to a record-setting $1.5 trillion in student loans on the books.
Other costs have mounted as well, leaving the bottom 80% of consumers with effectively no increase in discretionary income over the last decade. To make matters worse, if you single out just the bottom 40% of earners, they actually have less discretionary income to spend than they did back in 2007.
3. Delaying Key Life Milestones
Getting married, having children, and buying a house all have one major thing in common: they can be expensive.
The average person under 35 years old has a 34% lower net worth than they would have had in the 1990s, making it harder to tackle typical adult milestones. In fact, the average couple today is marrying eight years later than they did in 1965, while the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest point in three decades. Meanwhile, homeownership for those aged 24-32 has dropped by 9% since 2005.
A New Landscape for Business?
The modern consumer base is more diverse, but also must deal with increased financial pressures and a delayed start in achieving traditional milestones of adulthood. These demographic and economic factors ultimately have a ripple effect down to businesses and investors.
How do these big picture changes impact your business or investments?
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