Rock ‘n’ roll lives. Tennis is out. Golf is in. And millions of cats and dogs still are competing for the hearts of American pet owners.
Those are just a few of the nuggets that can be gleaned from the federal government’s annual snapshot of American life, the Statistical Abstract of the United States. The 1997 version, which was released Thursday, offers 1,023 pages of small-print data on how we play, work, live and die.
The information is compiled from a variety of sources, including consumer surveys, industry reports and government statistics.
The latest report shows that when it comes to music, rock ‘n’ roll is still the king. Nearly a third of the money spent on CDs, tapes and records last year went for rock ‘n’ roll. Country music’s share of the take increased to 14.7 percent - up from 9.6 percent in 1990.
As for other leisure activities, the fact book indicates that Americans are putting aside their tennis rackets and picking up golf clubs. The number of tennis players has dropped from 34 million in 1974 to fewer than 18 million in 1995. The number of golfers has skyrocketed from 13 million to 25 million during the same two decades.
Walking remains the most popular form of exercise, followed by swimming, bicycle riding and working out with exercise equipment. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death, followed by cancer, strokes and pulmonary disease.
On the issue of cats vs. dogs, the report offers ammunition for both sides.
Nearly 32 percent of the nation’s pet-owning households have dogs, compared with 27 percent that have cats.
But cats win in terms of sheer numbers. The cat population stands at nearly 60 million, compared with nearly 53 million canines. (There is no estimate for gerbils, probably because they multiply too fast to count.)
On other fronts, Americans are spending more time online, eating out more than ever and saving with more sophistication.
One in six U.S. adults used the Internet during the spring of 1997.
U.S. consumers spent $2.4 trillion on retail purchases in 1996 while holding $1.2 trillion in private savings.
A growing number of people are using credit cards to make those purchases.
Families using the cards jumped from 56 percent in 1989 to 66 percent in 1995.
Just more than half (52 percent) paid off their credit card monthly balances, while 28 percent hardly ever paid them off.
Forty percent of Americans play the stock market. In 1996, they made net purchases of $275 billion in mutual funds. In 1995, that number was $174 billion.
Americans are spending more than ever in restaurants.
In 1996, they spent a record $209.5 billion, up from $188 billion in 1995. The money was spread almost equally between fast-food and full service restaurants. That works out to dining-out spending of $65.80 a month for the average American.
xxxx LEISURELY PURSUITS The average American spent: 1,595 hours watching television last year, or just under 4.4 hours a day. 2.9 hours a day listening to the radio. 45 minutes a day listening to recorded music. 27 minutes a day reading a newspaper. 17 minutes a day reading books. 14 minutes a day reading magazines.