Change in Manufacturing Jobs by County 1975-2015 [USA]

Watch 40 years of change in manufacturing jobs across the United States from 1975 to 2015. The colors are based on the number of manufacturing jobs in each county as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Labor Estimates. Each year (1985, 1995, 2005, and 2015) are compared to 1975 to calculate the percentage change. Green counties have gains in manufacturing jobs.  Red counties have losses.  Counties that are gray have little to no change.

Overall, these 15 counties have seen the largest losses.  Most of these counties were former industrial powerhouses who had distinct advantages in transportation, infrastructure, and energy availability. Those advantages have been rendered obsolete.  Rapid automation and infrastructure improvements in transportation, energy, and communications across the rest of nation have enabled production to spread across the United States as well as overseas.

Top 15 Counties by Largest Losses in Manufacturing Jobs

County 2015 1975 Net Loss
Cook County, Illinois 186,967 666,136 -479,169
Los Angeles County, California 357,554 777,465 -419,911
New York County, New York 27,098 293,745 -266,647
Wayne County, Michigan 88,578 325,077 -236,499
Cuyahoga County, Ohio 69,812 224,160 -154,348
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania 21,473 164,885 -143,412
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 36,150 159,353 -123,203
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin 52,495 154,937 -102,442
Kings County, New York 21,174 119,640 -98,466
Hamilton County, Ohio 48,357 134,527 -86,170
Monroe County, New York 40,872 125,510 -84,638
St. Louis City Missouri 17,871 194,998 -77,127
Fairfield County, Connecticut 33,938 108,405 -74,467
Bergen County, New Jersey 30,947 103,631 -72,684
Essex County, New Jersey 16,990 89,462 -72,472

Almost all of these counties are located in the Rust Belt with the exclusion of Los Angeles, County.  Although many of these counties have successfully shifted to new industries in tech and finance, others such as Wayne County have been struggling.

On the other side, counties which have seen the largest increases have not seen increases as large as the decreases in the top 15 counties. Cook County alone had 666k manufacturing jobs in 1975 compared to these counties which had 927k manufacturing job combined in 2015.

Top 15 Counties by Largest Gains in Manufacturing Jobs

County 2015 1975 Net Change
Maricopa County, Arizona 115,385 71,973 43,412
Snohomish County, Washington 63,537 20,588 42,949
San Diego County, California 104,092 71,087 33,005
Elkhart County, Indiana 60,478 31,269 29,209
Harris County, Texas 189,946 161,511 28,435
Washington County, Oregon 47,167 19,747 27,420
Travis County, Texas 40,252 14,568 25,684
Riverside County, California 41,210 18,907 22,303
Ottawa County, Michigan 38,358 17,732 20,626
San Bernardino County, California 53,485 32,871 20,614
Collin County, Texas 23,618 3,705 19,913
Rutherford County, Tennessee 25,301 5,989 19,312
Waukesha County, Wisconsin 43,850 24,896 18,954
Gwinnett County, Georgia 25,246 6,328 18,918
DuPage County, Illinois 55,273 36,416 18,857

Note: Some counties have been excluded from the summary tables due to missing data on some of the reported years.

Historical Chicago Single Family Home Prices (1970-1986)

I was recently exploring some of Robert Shiller’s online data and noticed that he had some historical housing data on Chicago from the 1970s and 1980s.  I was curious what the data looked like after adjusting it for inflation and comparing it to more recent housing prices. Conventional wisdom says that home ownership is one of the best investments that can be made.  This is because it is an investment that you can use on a daily basis on top of being  an asset that could potentially appreciate in value over time.

After adjusting the historical median home prices, median single family home prices were generally between $170,000-200,000 for the 16 year period that Shiller researched (see table below).  According the Chicago Tribune, in early 2016, Chicago single family home prices were roughly $223,000. Taking the inflation adjusted numbers compared to the current housing values, this equals a 0.5% to 1.0% annual inflation adjusted growth rate to property values of single family homes in the city of Chicago, which is in line with previous estimates of home appreciation in the US.

As you can see in the table of the results, the nominal home prices have increased greatly over the past few decades, but the rate of growth over inflation is much smaller than you would have thought given conventional wisdom.

Year  Home Price Nominal Inflation Adjusted (2015) Inflation Adjusted Growth Rate
1970 $29,000.00 $178,930.00 0.489%
1971 $31,000.00 $183,210.00 0.447%
1972 $31,000.00 $177,320.00 0.533%
1973 $34,000.00 $183,260.00 0.467%
1974 $39,000.00 $189,540.00 0.397%
1975 $42,000.00 $186,900.00 0.441%
1976 $44,000.00 $185,240.00 0.476%
1977 $47,500.00 $187,625.00 0.455%
1978 $55,000.00 $201,850.00 0.269%
1979 $62,000.00 $203,980.00 0.248%
1980 $70,000.00 $203,000.00 0.268%
1981 $68,500.00 $180,155.00 0.628%
1982 $73,000.00 $181,040.00 0.632%
1983 $69,900.00 $167,760.00 0.889%
1984 $61,500.00 $141,450.00 1.468%
1985 $74,000.00 $164,280.00 1.019%
1986 $78,500.00 $171,130.00 0.913%


Historical Chicago Home Prices Adjusted to 2015 Inflation

The raw housing data is available on Shiller’s website, and data for Dallas and Atlanta are also available.  The inflation data is from Westegg.

American 30 year old’s wealth also halved in the past decade

The BBC recently reported that Wealth of people in their 30s has ‘halved in a decade’ in the UK.

I ran the numbers for the United States using data from the US Federal Reserve and the results are shockingly similar. Using data from the most recent report from the Federal Reserve, people in their 30s have had a dramatic drop in net worth from $57000 prior to the recession to about $25000 in the years after the recession.  That is drop of over 55%! Even if you compare against numbers from 20 years ago, the wealth of people in their 30s today is half. Among the reasons for this are increased costs of education, reduced earnings, and higher health care costs.

Here is a graph showing the inflation adjusted median net worth trends of households led by 30 year olds every 3 years from 1992 to 2013 (the most recent survey available). All values are in inflation adjusted 2013 dollars.

Tips! Hover over the bars to see the exact amounts.

These trends are telling since this means that the younger generations are not able to build up the same levels of wealth as those who came before them.  With the upcoming election, it is not surprising that the younger generations have been attracted to relative political outsiders such as Bernie Sanders, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein who promise greater opportunities to those who have not seen much of the benefit of the recovering economy.

Looking at the median income for these households, income for these same households has dropped 13%+, since the recession and has not yet recovered. It is not as dramatic as the drop in net worth, but that 13% drop has basically handicapped many young adult households from being able to save.

The data for these charts came from the US Treasury. All of this data is freely available there for you to perform your own analysis and fact checking.

If you would like to play around with the 2013 net worth data, check out the net worth rank calculator. Net worth is defined at total assets minus total debts, including housing, vehicles, cash, investments and retirement accounts.

Who are the 1% by Income? [USA]

TL;DR The households of the 1% by income compared to the normal US households are White, college educated, professionals, work in services and are older.

If you want to become one of this very wealthy group in the future, go to college, get married and become a working professional. Here are some mobile-friendly charts and visualizations to explore the demographics and composition of who makes up the highest income earners in the US are and what they did to get there.

Tip! You can hover or click on the graphs for more detailed information.

The households of the 1% have a median income over 22 times as high as median for all US households. This is a tremendously large advantage to these wealthy families to build their net worth.

Looking at their net worth, they are even wealthier at 93 times as much wealth than the median US household. It seems as though the highest income earners are able to save and build a disproportionately large amount of money compared average Americans.


Generally, 1%er households are older, with almost none younger than 35 years old.

Compared to overall US population, the head of households of the 1% tend to be much more highly educated. Almost all of the highest income earners in the country have college degrees.

The 1% is overwhelmingly employed in white collared professions. Here’s an explanation in more detail of which jobs fit in which category:

  • White Collar: This category is generally what you would think of as college-educated professionals and managers. Typically these jobs are salaried and based in office environments. It includes jobs such as CEO’s, managers, analysts, computer professionals, scientists, researchers, lawyers, entertainers, educators, doctors, nurses, and other skilled health professionals.
  • Grey Collar: This category is includes technical, sales, and service jobs. Typically, these are hourly jobs that require some formal training, apprenticeships, or specialization. These jobs include front-line supervisors of grey and blue collared employees, clerks, sales people, administrators, agents, food prep, technicians, and operators.
  • Blue Collar: These are hourly workers who are typically not college educated. These jobs typically do not require much as formal training, but it does include many skilled professionals who work in manufacturing settings. This includes production, craft, repair, operational and general laborers. It also includes miscellaneous workers.
  • Not Working: These workers are not employed.

The families of the 1% also tend to be much more likely to be married. Stress over money is one of the major contributors to divorce, so their wealth may help stabilize marriages.

The 1% have a higher percentage of white people than the households of the overall US population. The non-white category includes Hispanics.

The 1% primarily work in non-production based industries. Services & Other includes high income industries such as finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE). Here’s an explanation of the groupings:

  • Production: These are industries that are involved in mining, manufacturing, and construction.
  • Services & Other: These group is basically everything else including transportation, communications, utilities, retail, government, finance, insurance, real estate, etc
  • Not Working: These head of households are not working.

Note: The data used to generate these graphs are freely available from the Federal Reserve SCF. There is a known tendency for the SCF to over-sample the ultra-wealthy, such as the 1%, which causes the numbers from the SCF to have higher income and net worth of the 1% compared to other surveys. Use this data for generalizations on the 1%, but keep in mind all sampling of this group are hard due to low response rates.

What is your personal cost of capital?

Most large companies use a concept called the cost of capital as a factor judge whether or not an investment is worthy to go ahead. This cost of capital refers to the cost of taking on debt to pay for the investment or to the loss of what that money could have done elsewhere.

How does a personal cost of capital translate to my own personal finances?

Using a cost of capital in your personal life can help you to prioritize between paying off loans or investing in yourself, your business, or investments. First, the main concept is that your personal cost of capital should be low risk. Next, your personal cost of capital should have the largest expected payback of your low risk options. It will serve as the bar that any other financial decision needs to meet in order for you to go ahead.

For most people your personal cost of capital will first be:

  1. The interest rates on any debt that you hold (car loans, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, etc).
  2. If you don’t have debt, it would be the interest rate on any CD’s or savings accounts.

Everyone’s cost of capital will be different due to varying options and opportunities.  It will also change over time as you progress through life.

Example with Student Loans

Let’s say you went to college and have student loans.  You’re getting a $1,000 bonus at work. Further, you already have 6 months of savings in your emergency fund. You aren’t sure which of these options you should take:

  • Option 1: Leaving it in your bank account for 1% annual interest.
  • Option 2: Paying an extra $1,000 to your $10,000 student loans. These loans are at 6.8% annual interest and have 10 years remaining.
  • Option 3: Paying to take a certification which will earn you a $100 raise at work every year for the next 10 years. This equates to a non-compounding 10% interest rate.

Basic Analysis

  • Option 1 will net you $105 over 10 years and is very safe, using the interest formula, [Ending amount] = [Starting Amount] eAnnual Interest Rate * Number of Years
  • Option 2 will net you a guaranteed $875  over 10 years. This was calculated by summing up $3,809 in interest without the extra payment, versus $2,934 with the extra payment. I used this student loan payback calculator from Bankrate.
  • Option 3 may net you $1,000 over 10 years. But, there is some risk, because maybe you will move to another employer in those 10 years.

In a business, we would look at these options and say, Option 2 is the cost of capital that we’re going to use to compare the other options against. It has a good return, low risk, and low effort. Your next decision would be whether or not to go for option 3. It has an even higher payback, but would require more research on what your plans and goals are in the future.

This concept should help structure your thoughts around how financial decision is going to affect you.  Finally, there are going to be a lot of other factors that will impact your final decision.  Your personal cost of capital is a small piece to help to put numbers around it. But, remember money is a tool not the goal, so put your money to the best use.

Mapping the Average House Age by County

Last year I moved into a city which had much older housing stock than other cities that I had lived in before. I was under-prepared for the housing market here, because I had not researched the factors that you should look into for older homes which vary a lot depending on the era that they were built in.  I created this interactive mobile friendly map to visually help show the differences in regions and counties.

Continue reading

Net Worth Trends by Age : Are you on track?

Is your net worth on track compared the rest of the US population? Here are a few graphs to see if you have increased your net worth at a similar rate to other American households. In this first graph, I’ve selected the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of net worth at various age ranges to allow you to figure out where you lie in relation to the rest of the population.  For example, at age 30:

  • the 25th percentile has a net worth of $700.
  • the 50th percentile has a net worth of $16,000.
  • the 75th percentile has a net worth of $77,900.

net worth trends 25th to 75th at various ages

There are many misconceptions about American wealth.  A common one is that Americans are heavily indebted. As this graph demonstrates most American have a positive net worth, even at the 25th percentile.  Net worth includes assets such as houses, stocks, retirement accounts, etc as well as debts such as mortgages, student loans, and credit cards.  You can follow the general trend of people saving more and more as they age.  This trend reverses around the standard retirement age of 65-70, and people begin to draw down on their retirement savings and other assets to pay for living expenses.  The drop is most drastic for those that are in the 75th percentile, which may be due to many causes such as retirees continuing to support the same level of lifestyle that they lived while they were in their income earning worth trends 10th

Not all Americans are as fortunate, the 10th percentile of households is heavily indebted until age 50 when the net worth of the average household in the 10th percentile of wealth hits 0.  An important thing to keep in mind with these charts is that people will move between different percentiles due to different life circumstances.  Many of the households in the 10th percentile in the 20-35 year old age brackets are probably in debt from student loans.  These people probably have higher future earning potential and build up wealth faster than most other households.
net worth trends 90th

Those at the 90th percentile bracket follow the previous trend as the rest of the population, but with many times a much money saved as the average American household. At age 70, a household in the 90th percentile has almost 10% as much wealth as the average American household ($2 million vs $226k)! Are you saving enough?

You can calculate your own net worth percentile using our Net Worth Percentile Caclulator.

These graphs were generated from data from the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Young Adult Income and Debt Trends since 1989

Most Americans say that their children will be financially worse off than they were at the same age. I decided to investigate if the trends over the past 25 years show a downward trend for today’s Millennials just now starting to 20’s and 30’s.

Since most of us aren’t independently wealthy enough to not work, income is the major factor behind most people’s financial health.  For households who’s heads are are between the ages of 20-30 years old, inflation adjusted incomes have been  trending slightly down since 1989.  Since the data is grouped by the age of the head of a household,  most full-time students will not be represented in this age bracket.  So the trends should only include financially independent 20-30 year olds who have left their parents households.   In the graph you can see that the educational income premium for 20-30 years is very significant.  Fluctuating at a roughly 40% increase for college graduates over high school graduates.

20s income over time

The inflation adjusted incomes of the older millenial and the younger Gen-Xers (represented in the 30-40s age groups in the 2013 data)  also follow a similar trend of staying relatively stable since 1989.  College graduates have seen a slight over-all increase but not much.  So it looks like at least looking at just income, Millenials and young Gen-Xers are doing roughly the same as the the previous generations in terms of income.30s income over time

So far, we’ve seen that things are not bad for college graduates, not great but at least for the most part today’s Millennials are starting off at roughly the same incomes as the previous generations.  The other educational income groups aren’t doing quite as well as college graduates, but their overall trends are not quite as terrible as headlines would suggest.

 Income isn’t the only measure of financial health though.  Debt is another important factor and as the graphs show, debt is increasing significantly for college graduates. Debt from housing (such as mortgages) has been the category with the largest dollar value increase over the past 2 decades.  There was a spike in debt leading up to the great recession that appears to have followed the 30-40 year old households as they have aged. For the 20-30s bracket is seems as though enthusasim over home ownership has reverted back to the historical levels of debt despite the current low interest rates.  Car loans have also been largely stable and are almost unchanged, since 1989.  The biggest consistent percent increase has been in student loans which comprise roughly a third of 20-30 year old debts and about a tenth of 30-40 year old debts in 2013.debt college educated 20s vs income debt college educated 30s vs income

OOverall from these selected figures, younger Millennials are not doing worse than previous generations, but older Millennials are carrying far greater loads of debt that any comparable age group before.

These figures are results off of the Survey of Consumer Finances conducted by the US Federal Reserve.  All figures are stated in 2013 inflation adjusted dollars.

Tips to finding the best way to travel home for the holidays

Ever since I graduated college, I’ve lived in states far away from my parents.  So, if I wanted to go home for the holidays, I had to make a plan so that I could still meet expectations at work, and avoid breaking the bank. Here are a few of the tips that I’ve learned along the way.

Tip 1: Use Google Flights

My favorite flight comparison website is Google Flights.   Not only do they do a good job at showing the lowest prices for that ticket, it’s also really easy to figure out the cheapest times/days for your flights that would work in your schedule.  The only downside is that Southwest flights aren’t part of the search.

One of the best features are their calendar views.  If you click where the yellow cursor is (right in one of the date selection boxes) another set of options will pop up.
google flights 1

You’ll first see the calendar view, which shows you the cheapest days to depart if you were to shift the start of your vacation to that date.  So if you initially searched for a departure and return flight that were a week apart, the calendar will show you the best prices for departures and returns a week apart.

google flights2

The next view is the price graph which gives you a nice representation for how the prices are trending.  I use this to figure out the absolute lowest price the flight goes for before deciding if I’m going to wait and chance it or buy a ticket now.

google flights3

In general, prices are pretty erratic 2-6 months out, so if you check the prices pretty frequently, you might get a deal.   Once you wait till 1 month or less, the prices are pretty stable but trend up the longer you wait.

Tip 2: Book a Refundable Southwest Ticket and then check Google  Flights every single day.

The standard Wanna-Get-Away Southwest ticket is refundable for an equal flight credit which will expire. So if you want to lock in a ticket just in case the flight prices skyrocket, you can book a flight with Southwest and keep checking Google Flights to see if something better pops up.  You should really only do this, if you’ll fly enough to use the credit before it expires.  It’s way better if you use Southwest reward miles instead of money,  since those are 100% refundable.  So if you cancel your flight you won’t incur any penalties or limitations.

Tip 3: Try the Bus or Train

If you don’t like driving long distances, buses and trains are an option.  I personally would not do this if it involves a transfer or is longer than 8 hours.  The buses that I have ridden have had wifi, built in outlets, and comfy seats so it’s about as comfortable as flying.  Amtrak has way more comfortable seats than most airlines, but most of their trains lack wifi or outlets.

Tip 4: Get Airline Points

If you’re planning 6 months ahead, you could try to get an airline rewards credit card.  Many airline credit cards have sign on bonuses of 40,000 – 50,000 points for meeting a minimum spend of a few thousand dollars within the first few months of getting the card.  It takes time for you to receive the points, so you have to start the process early enough in the year so that you can use them for holiday travel.  I would check out the subreddit /r/churning for more information on which cards are the best.

Good luck, and happy holidays! If worst comes to worst, you can always rent a car.


The Change in Median American Net Worth from 1989 to 2013

Now that I’ve updated all the tools to reflect 2013 SCF data, I decided to create a much larger database from the SCF using data all the way back to 1989. There’s more to come on that, as I am still working on the best way to let you guys play with the data, but just to show you what’s to come.  Like the tools that are currently available, this data was calculated using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.  I took the net worth statistics for each year and calculated what it would take to rank at certain percentiles of wealth.

Here is a table showing the net worth by percentile for every SCF since 1989. The Fed has already converted all the dollar values in the most recent versions of the data to 2013 dollars (using standard inflation rates), so we’re comparing apples to apples. As you can see across the board, from 2004 to 2007, net worth peaked across the distribution. Networth The disturbing thing though, is that since then only the 90% and above has had a nearly full recovery in wealth. The 25% and below are hitting historic lows in wealth, and the median wealth of Americans is lower than 1989, despite the massive increase in GDP, productivity, and total wealth in the United States. It appears that the majority of those gains have been concentrated in the top 10% of Americans rather than being evenly distributed.

CaptureFor further reference here are those same numbers plotted to show the relative changes in wealth between Americans at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75, and 90th percentiles. The largest gains in the last couple decades have captured at the 10% and presumably above.  I am hesitant to calculate and publish the numbers of the 5th and 95th percentiles because the data is a lot more prone to being skewed at the long tail ends of the distributions.