No U.S. Population Growth for Six Months?!?!

March 21, 2017

As part of my monthly calculation of the size of the actual labor force (for the purpose of analyzing the monthly employment report), I use the U.S. population as determined by the “Population Clock” on the home page of the U.S. Census Bureau.  As I write this, it stands at 324.73 million.  This figure typically grows at the rate of about 180,000 per month.  That’s a scary rate of population growth.  The U.N. estimates that half of all world population growth by 2050 will be caused by the growth of the population in only eight nations – seven third world nations and – you guessed it – the United States, the only developed nation that continues to experience third-world-like population growth.

But I’ve noticed something strange in the last six months, and especially since the beginning of the year.  In December, the population clock actually fell back by almost 600,000.  Since then, the population has been growing at a rate of only about 80,000 per month.  Today, it stands at almost exactly the same level as it did at the end of September.

This is great news, but I suspect that some of the reason for the slowdown is not good news.  You may recall that sometime back around December, the CDC announced that death rates in the U.S. were rising while life expectancy had actually declined slightly.  But there’s some really great news too.  Illegal immigrants are being deported and the entry of new illegal immigrants has slowed dramatically.  Even legal immigration has slowed since Trump took office.

Although it’s still early in this new trend, a couple of observations are in order:

  • Most economists predict economic gloom and doom to accompany a lack of population growth.  Contrary to that, the U.S. economy has experienced its best growth in many years in the past six months.  A brightening economic outlook is one of the outcomes I predicted in Five Short Blasts that would accompany a stabilizing or even declining U.S. population.
  • A rising death rate is another outcome that I predicted in my book for nations whose population densities continue to grow beyond a critical level, driven by rising unemployment and poverty.

This is all something I’ll be watching closely as immigration continues to slow dramatically during the Trump administration.

U.S. Life Expectancy Declines in 2015 as Death Rates Rise

December 13, 2016

As reported in the above-linked article last week, the National Center for Health Statistics  (NCHS) reported that the average life expectancy for Americans born in 2015 actually fell by one month – from 78.9 years to 78.8 years.  Here’s a link to the full report:

This was the first decline since 1993 when the average life expectancy fell from 75.8 to 75.5 years – the only other decline since record-keeping of this statistic began in 1980.

One year does not make a trend, so one may question the significance of the decline.  However, there is a trend evident in the data.  Prior to 2o15, the longest stretch of flat life expectancy was three years, from 1984 to 1986, when the average life expectancy held at 74.7 years.  The decline in 2015 brings life expectancy to the same level it was at four years ago in 2012.  And it’s not as though human life expectancy is reaching some sort of limit at that level.  Thirty nations have a higher life expectancy – extending well into the 80’s.

Average life expectancy is a function of the death rate.  The NCHS lists the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S.  Among these top ten causes, the death rate rose for all but one – cancer.  But in spite of the fact that cancer and heart disease are far and away the two leading causes of death, the rise in every category except cancer was enough to more than offset the decline in the death rate due to cancer.  It seems that there may be something at work that crosses all categories of death rate.

It’s very likely that that underlying cause is worsening poverty.  Though poverty is never considered a cause of death, being an outside factor instead of a medical factor, it is far and away the number one killer in the world.  Consider this:  among those nations with a longer life expectancy than the U.S., the average “purchasing power parity” (or “PPP,” a measure of income) is over $41,000, the thirteen nations who rank at the bottom in terms of life expectancy (less than 50 in some cases) have an average PPP of less than $3,000.  It takes money to live a long life.  It takes money to pay for health care, to eat a healthy diet, to maintain vehicles in a safe condition, to hold depression at bay, and so on.

The U.S. ranks right up there (19th) with the top nations in terms of PPP.  However, the median household income peaked in the U.S. in 1999 at $57,909.  By 2012 it had slipped to $52,666.  It should come as no surprise, then, that average life expectancy since that time has been flat or, as in 2015, actually declining.

This is precisely the outcome, the inescapable collision between a growing population density and declining per capita consumption, that I warned of in Five Short Blasts.  Relying on population growth as a crutch for economic growth, the U.S. has continued to grow its actual population and has dramatically exacerbated the effect by exploding its “effective” population by engaging in free trade with badly overpopulated nations.  The manufacturing sector of our economy has been gutted and the supply-demand equation for labor has been thrown out-of-balance, driving down incomes.

The Obama administration can fool itself all it wants with its gimmicked statistics on jobs and unemployment, but they can’t alter the real world consequences of its failed trade and immigration policies.  Poverty is the very mechanism by which nature will eventually correct the problem of human overpopulation.  The 2015 life expectancy data may be the first indication that that process has begun in America.


Slowing Population Growth Boosts Per Capita GDP in 2nd Quarter

August 1, 2012

Things have been a little crazy here lately and I’ve fallen behind once again.  So the news about 2nd quarter GDP, released on Friday (link provided above), is already a little stale.  But there’s a twist in that news that merits comment.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced that growth in the nation’s gross domestic product slowed in the 2nd quarter to a very anemic annual rate of 1.5% from a slightly upwardly-revised figure of 2.0% in the first quarter.  So I expected that I’d be writing about a decline in per capita GDP to only 0.5% – very close to a recessionary level.

But that’s not the case.  When I crunched the numbers, per capita GDP actually held steady at an annual rate of about 1.1%.  Upon checking my numbers, I found that growth in the U.S. population, using data taken from the Census Bureau site, has actually slowed dramatically.  Here’s a chart of the percentage change in the U.S. population:   Quarterly U.S. Population Growth Rate

As you can see, although the growth rate in the 2nd quarter typically rises, it actually fell this time, to its lowest level since I started tracking it, with the exception of the correction that took place in the first quarter of last year as a result of the 2010 census.  But this isn’t just a one-quarter blip.  There seems to be an acceleration in the rate of decline in population growth over the past couple of years. 

The result is that there was actually a very slight up-tick in per capita GDP in the 2nd quarter.  In other words, every American is actually slightly richer as a result of fewer-than-expected people sharing the GDP.  Every American got a slightly larger piece of pie in the 2nd quarter because fewer Americans showed up at the table than expected.  Here’s a chart of per capita GDP:  Real Per Capita GDP

What’s going on here?  In my previous post, we learned that the fertility rate has fallen to a 25-year low, approaching the level needed to reach a stable population.  And, if the CDC (center for disease control) ever updates it’s data for death rates and life expectancy, I expect we’ll see that the death rate is actually rising slightly, primarily due to the effects of obesity, but due to the effects of rising poverty as well.  That leaves only immigration to maintain population growth and, so far, it doesn’t seem to be happening.  Has the administration been quietly ratcheting back on immigration too?  I don’t know, but it’s something I’m going to investigate.  More on this later.

In the meantime, the good news here is that slowing population growth is already yielding benefits for every American.

Poverty in U.S. at Record Level

November 7, 2011

You probably heard reports about this story last week when the Census Bureau released its annual report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage.  The report revealed that the percentage of Americans living at less than 50% of the poverty level hit a new record in 2010.  (See the above link for highlights of the report.)   One out of every 15 Americans (6.7%) has an income of less than $5,570 for an individual or $11,157 for a family of four.  Here’s a link to the table:    (see table 5)

The percentage of Americans living at or below the poverty level rose for the fourth year in a row to 15.1%, the highest level since 1993.  The Census Bureau began tracking poverty in 1959.  At that time, it was over 22%.  It fell steadily every year until reaching 12% in 1969.  Since then, it has exceeded 15% only three times – in 1983 (15.2%) , 1993 (15.1%) and 2010 (15.1%).  Here’s the chart:

Given that incomes are continuing to decline, it’s a sure bet that the overall poverty rate will rise in 2011 to its worst level since 1966.

This data is of special significance for those who understand the new economic theory I put forward in Five Short Blasts.  If that theory is valid, there are a few key events that we should witness as the U.S. and the world grow more crowded.  We should see unemployment steadily rising and, as a result, we should see poverty rise as well. 

We’ve already seen unemployment rise dramatically with virtually no prospect of decline, at least not as long as current trade and immigration policies are maintained.  And now we see that poverty is on the rise as well, hitting record levels by one measure and close to 40-year highs by another.  One parameter remains – life expectancy.  We should soon see declines in that measure as a result of increasing poverty.  But, alas, it seems that the Center for Disease Control stopped publishing life expectancy data in 2007.  One can only speculate as to the reason why, but perhaps its because the data would be too inflamatory to release to the public.  It’s one thing to hear that the economy is bad.  It’s quite another to hear that you can expect to die sooner.

Since developing this theory in 1993 (and finally publishing the book in 2007), I have seen absolutely nothing to call into question the validity of the inverse relationship between population density and per capita consumption, nor its implications for trade policy.  Conversely, virtually everything we’ve witnessed casts doubt on the prevailing economic theories of growth and free trade – enormous global trade imbalances, the implosion of the global financial system, falling incomes, soaring unemployment, rising poverty and nations collapsing under the weight of their accumulated debts.  And what do we get from the field of economics in response?  Almost comical rationalizations and a shift in focus to goofy new economic theories about “happiness” and “promoting life.” 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to life.  I enjoy the hell out of it.  But, after centuries of promoting population growth because it seemed to make economic sense, to now divert attention from this theory’s failings by suggesting that life should be promoted for some kind of intangible, intrinsic value is indeed preposterous, goofy and comical.  The other sciences once mocked the field of economics for accepting the theories of Malthus.  Where are they now when economists truly deserve to be mocked for abandoning data, reason and scientific curiosity in favor of something more akin to some kind of irrational voodoo-ism? 

* * * * *

There are a couple of nuggets in the summary of the report that merit comment:

  • If you scan the highlights of the report, you’ll see that in some regions of the country or in some demographic group, the data held steady.  But nowhere in the report is there a single instance of any improvement in any group or region in any of the paramters measured – income, poverty and health insurance.
  • Since 2007, the year before the most recent recession, real median household income has declined 6.4 percent and is 7.1 percent below the median household income peak that occurred prior to the 2001 recession in 1999.
  • Since 2007, the number of men working full time, year-round with earnings decreased by 6.6 million and the number of corresponding women declined by 2.8 million.  (In other words, 9.4 million have gone to the unemployment line, not to mention the 6 million new workers who have gone there as well.  That’s a total of 15.4 million added to the ranks of the unemployed since 2007.)
  • In spring 2011, 5.9 million young adults age 25-34 (14.2 percent) resided in their parents’ household, compared with 4.7 million (11.8 percent) before the recession, an increase of 2.4 percentage points.  It is difficult to precisely assess the impact of doubling up on overall poverty rates. Young adults age 25-34, living with their parents, had an official poverty rate of 8.4 percent, but if their poverty status were determined using their own income, 45.3 percent had an income below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65. 

Regarding that last item, consider the effect on per capita consumption when the number of young people living at home is on the rise and their poverty rate is 45.3%.  Aside from food and clothing, they consume virtually nothing.  Remember, as per capita consumption goes, so too goes employment and poverty – a cycle that begins to feed on itself.

U.S. Life Expectancy Stalls at 77.9 Years

August 20, 2009

The first of the above links will take you to a Reuters article reporting on Wednesday’s announcement by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that U.S. life expectancy hit a new high of 78 years in 2007.  The second link will take you to the most recent CDC report, to which the 2007 data has not yet been added. 

Seventy-eight was the headline figure.  But reading more closely, you’ll find that we haven’t reached 78.0 at all.  The actual figure is 77.9.  “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself.  “I thought we were already at 77.9.”  So I did some digging.  Sure enough, the old record, reported on page 173 in my book, was 77.9 years, reached in 2006.  So what gives?  How can the CDC claim that our life expectancy has climbed to a new record when, in fact, it has actually stalled at 77.9?

Easy.  Just do the same thing the Department of Labor does to hold down the unemployment figures – revise your methodology to make the numbers look better.  In this case, if you look at Table 8 on page 27 of the CDC report (the table of life expectancy), you’ll see a couple of footnotes indicating that the data for 2006 was revised.  The 2006 figure used to be 77.9 years.  Now it’s 77.7 years, making the new 2007 data point appear to be an improvement and a new record, when it’s nothing of the sort. 

Also, go to the next page – Table 9 on page 28.  There you’ll see that the death rate for age groups 15-24 and 25-34 have risen to their highest levels in many years.  And the death rate for age group 45-54 remains above its 1999 levels.  The population in these age groups dwarfs the population of the older age groups, where the death rate is declining nicely, but remains extremely high as would be expected for such elderly people. 

My economic theory is that rising overpopulation leads to rising rates of unemployment and, consequently, poverty – real poverty for those at the bottom of the economic ladder and an insidious poverty for most of the rest of us as declining real incomes gradually take their toll.  And poverty is the world’s number one cause of deaths.  This report may or may not be an indication of the beginning of that process.  It’s interesting that death rates are rising in the age groups that represent the newest entrants to the labor force – where incomes are lowest and benefits like health care are less available.  Meanwhile, death rates continue to decline for older Americans, those with Medicare and those with more secure access to health care benefits provided in pension plans.  But those benefits are dying as fast as that segment of the population. 

Has the U.S. life expectancy reached its zenith?  Will unemployment and poverty slowly drive death rates higher?  The jury is still out, but it’s an ominous sign when the CDC starts fudging data to paint a rosy picture.