Category Archives: data visualization

Developing Trends for U.S. Teen Employment Going into the Summer of 2023

Now Hiring sign in front of building by Ernie Journeys via Unsplash -

The month of May is a time of transition for working teens in the U.S. The school year is ending, or is about to. Thousands of employers across the country are ramping up their hiring activity to support their busy summer season.

If you don't count the Coronavirus Pandemic year of 2020, it happens every year. The number of teens entering the ranks of the employed starts swelling in May, rises in June, peaks in July, starts falling in August, and when the new school year begins around or shortly after, drops back to the levels they were before the old school year let out.

Through the magic of seasonal adjustments, the data jocks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are able to filter out that very familiar and predictable pattern. What they leave behind after their handiwork, for all intents and purposes, gives a good idea of the trends taking place beneath the seasonal noise.

That's the data we're looking at for U.S. teens, where the following charts showing the number of employed teens and the employed teen-to-teen population ratios have been charted from January 2016 through May 2023. The charts show this data for the Age 16-17 group, the Age 18-19 group, and the combined Age 16-19 group. Here are the charts:

U.S. Teen Employment and U.S. Teen Employmenbt to Population Ratio, January 2016 - May 2023

The data for each age demographic has been put through its own seasonal adjustment, which is why the sums of the figures for the Age 16-17 and Age 18-19 groups shown in the chart may not sum to the combined Age 16-19 group. If you want data that adds up, you'll want the non-seasonally adjusted data that includes the summer seasonal employment surge for U.S. teens....

Looking at the teen employment numbers (in the top chart), we see that overall employment of Age 16-19 year olds has generally been rising fairly steadily since October 2020, but is down in May 2023 after having peaked in April 2023. The data for older teens (Age 18-19) is similar. But the data for younger teens indicates that rising tide ended with December 2020, with either a falling (in January-February 2023) or a generally flat trend since.

The teen employment to population ratio is a little more interesting. That's because its showing either a flat or falling trend for two of the three demographic groups. For younger teens (Age 16-17), the share of those with jobs peaked betweeen April 2022 and December 2023, having fallen in the months since.

Meanwhile, the data for the combined group of teens (Age 16-19) shows a similar pattern, but one that lags behind that for younger teens. That data shows a peak between August 2022 and April 2022.

But older teens (Age 18-19) would appear to still be on a rising trend, even though their employed-to-population ratio dipped by the largest amount from April to May 2023. Given the month-to-month volatility of the data, it's too early to identify anything that looks like a change in trend for this group.

With that in mind, we'll see how that developing situation might change through the summer.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics (Current Population Survey - CPS). [Online Database.] Accessed: 2 June 2023.

Image credit: Photo by Ernie Journeys on Unsplash.

A Rising Tide of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filings

Petition to file for bankruptcy by Melinda Gimpel via Unsplash -

Bankruptcies are on the rise in the U.S., which is driving a surge of interest in the news media. Here's a series of recent headlines:

Most of the reports either don't do much to communicate what kind of numbers are being talked about, or in the case of the FT article, focus on a subset of commercial bankruptcy data so it presents an incomplete picutre. We threw together the following chart using data from Epiq Global/Epiq Bankruptcy to track the monthly number of commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings over the past 10 years to provide some longer term context.

Monthly U.S. Commercial Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filings, January 2013 - April 2023

Based on what we see in the chart, the first headline provides the best description of where things stand today. The rest are looking forward to a future that's still developing. The big, unanswered questions are when will the current rising tide of commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcies peak before beginning to recede, and how high will the number of filings get before it does?

Image credit: Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash.

Visualizing Money in the Bank and Investments by Age

Cash, Wealth, Money Assets concept by kalhh via Pixabay -

Not long ago, we looked at how inflation and interest rates changed the mortgage payment for the median new home sold in the United States in the two years between March 2021 and March 2023. As part of that exercise, we tracked down what the median down payment is for homes purchased in the U.S., which was given as 13 percent of the sale price of all homes sold in 2022. For the median new home sold in March 2023, that would be $58,474.

That raised a question. Who has that kind of cash laying around?

To answer the question, we tapped the Federal Reserve's 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, which reports the median amount of assets held in bank transaction accounts, which includes savings, checking, and money market accounts among others by age group. It also tells us the median amount of financial assets of any type held by age group. The following chart shows that data:

Median Bank Account Balance and Holdings of Financial Assets of Any Type by Age*, 2019

What we find from this median data is that it's unlikely any family at or below the 50th percentile is ponying up the down payment for the median new home sold in the U.S.

Instead, it's much more likely the family buying median new home is closer to the average when it comes to having the financial assets needed to purchase the median new home sold in the U.S. The next chart shows the mean amount of assets held in bank transaction accounts and in any financial assets by age group.

Average Bank Account Balance and Holdings of Financial Assets of Any Type by Age*, 2019

These charts represent data that was collected during 2019. The Federal Reserve will release the data it collected during 2022 later this year, sometime in September 2023.

Analyst's Notes

Financial assets of any type start with bank transaction accounts and adds relatively liquid assets in the total, including as certificates of deposit, savings bonds, bonds, stocks, money in pooled investment funds, retirement accounts, the cash value of life insurance, and other similarly liquid assets.

According to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, the median family income in 2019's survey was $58,600, while the average family income was $106,500. Both the SCF's estimates are less than the U.S. Census Bureau's estimates for total money income received by families in 2019, which were $86,011 and $116,735 respectively.


Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances. Table 6. Family holdings of financial assets, by selected characteristics of families and type of asset. [Excel Spreadsheet]. September 2020.

Image credit: Image by kalhh from Pixabay.

Inflation, Interest Rates and the Median New Home Mortgage Payment

House Finance by Tierra Mallorca via Unsplash -

Imagine you were out to buy a typical new home home back in March 2021. The median price of a new home sold in the U.S. that month was $359,600. The average 30-year conventional mortgage rate back then was 3.083%.

Flash forward two years later, to March 2023, and a new home buyer in the U.S. would pay a median price of $449,800 for a new home according to initial estimates. And the interest rate on their 30-year conventional mortgage would be about 6.544%. How different would the monthly mortgage payment be for someone buying the median new home sold in March 2023 compared to what someone would have paid for the median new home sold two years earlier?

There's a little more to it than that, because we also need to take things like property taxes and homeowners insurance into account. We would also need to factor in how big the median down payment for a home is these days, and if that's less than 20% of the sale price of the new home, how much private mortgage insurance would add to its monthly payment.

So we did all that and created the following chart to show how different the monthly payment is for a median new home sold in March 2023 is from that for the median new home sold back in March 2021.

How U.S. Home Price Inflation and Interest Rate Hikes Have Affected the Monthly Payment of Median New Home Buyers, March 2021 - March 2023

Overall, we find that between the increase in the median price of new homes sold in the U.S. and interest rate hikes, the monthly payment for the buyers of median new homes has increased by $1,313, rising 66.5% from $1,974 in March 2021 to $3,287 in March 2023.

Of that monthly increase, $334 is because of the inflation of new home sale prices, which is how much higher a basic mortgage payment would be if interest rates had not also risen. Of course, a higher home value would also boost the amount of property taxes owed by $69 per month and the amount of homeowners insurance by $26 per month.

That doesn't include the stand-alone increase in the size of a down payment, which for 2022's median of 13% of the sale price of a home, would have risen by $11,276, increasing from $46,748 to $58,474.

Because the median down payment for a home in 2022 was 13%, the cost of private mortgage insurance would also be tacked onto the monthly payment. While that can range anywhere from 0.19% and 1.86% of the balance owed on a mortgage, we set it at 1.0% for our brand new homeowner to put it in the middle of that range.

Briefly going back to property taxes, the estimates we used in our calculations is based on the median statewide property tax rate of 0.92%, which just happens to be the rate that applies in the state of Georgia. We did not factor in any county, municipal, or local property taxes.

The remaining $817 of the monthly payment increase is entirely due to the rise of average mortgage interest rates between March 2021 and March 2023. With the 30-year mortgage rate more than doubling during this period, this factor represents the biggest contributor to the increase in the monthly cost of owning a new home. It's all the more remarkable because nearly all of the increase in mortgage rates took place after December 2021.

Finally, we were inspired to create this waterfall chart by u/CheeryOaf's original version at r/dataisbeautiful. It's a neat way to capture how the various components of the monthly cost of homeownership have changed.

Image credit: Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash.

How Much Do You Pay in Sales Taxes?

If you had to pick a sales tax rate that would be "typical" for what consumers pay when they buy things in your state, what rate would you pick?

That's a tough question to answer because in addition to state sales taxes, you may also have county, city, and municipal sales taxes added onto your receipts whenever you buy something. Plus, it's quite unlikely you only do all your shopping within your home town or county. What you pay in combined state and local sales taxes will differ depending on where your transactions take place.

The Tax Foundation has a neat solution for determining the average combined state and local sales tax rate for an entire state. They start with the most local sales tax rate data they can get, roughly all the way down to the zip code level. They take these super-local sales tax rates and add them to the state's sales tax rate, then weight them according to the percentage of the state's population that lives within the super-local regions these combined sales tax rates apply. The final result is a population-weighted average combined state and local sales tax rate.

In the following interactive map, we've presented their results for each state.

Here's a little more background for what this data shows:

Retail sales taxes are one of the more transparent ways to collect tax revenue. While graduated income tax rates and brackets are complex and confusing to many taxpayers, sales taxes are easier to understand; consumers can see their tax burden printed directly on their receipts.

In addition to state-level sales taxes, consumers also face local sales taxes in 38 states. These rates can be substantial, so a state with a moderate statewide sales tax rate could actually have a very high combined state and local rate compared to other states. This report provides a population-weighted average of local sales taxes as of January 1, 2023, to give a sense of the average local rate for each state.

As of this writing, the data reflects the nation's population distribution as of 2010. It may be interesting to see how the population-weighted combined state and local sales taxes change after the 2020 Census data becomes available, even if the state and local taxes themselves didn't change.

But wait, there's more!

Although they didn't map it, the Tax Foundation also included the basic statewide sales tax rates with their analysis. That data is presented in our next interactive map!

If you go back and forth between the two maps, you can get a sense of how much local sales taxes add to the shopping bills of consumers in your state of interest. Assuming, of course, they do most of their shopping where most the population of the state lives!