Part 3: Education for Adults. Looking at behavior

Part 3 still focuses on adults in the 20 – 35 year age range, and their behaviors. Our goal continues to find ways to offer library programming that is meaningful and helpful to this group’s everyday life. Traditionally we have had trouble attracting this demographic to library programs. We do a great job in offering programming that meets their family needs; such as early childhood literacy and the summer reading programs but are there might be other opportunities that we might be missing.


In Part 3, we will look at this demographics spending patterns habits. How much of their income goes towards the basics such as housing, food, and transportation. How much do they have for discretionary spending, and are there any purchasing patterns?


In census 2011 census brief it showed that people aged 20- 35 made up approximately 21% of the U.S. population and in 2010 this had grown to 26%. Does this percentage increase mean that their spending power has increased, or are they just a greater percentage of the population?


To help understand this question I looked at a 2000 study from the U.S. Department of Labor, their research showed that this age range encounters many first-time life events. Their first job, marriage, children, home purchase, and the first steps in planning for retirement.


As compared to adults 35 and older this younger group spends a higher percentage of their income on food outside the household, alcoholic drinks, housing (homes and rentals) apparel, transportation, and education.


The under 35 group also appears to be the least likely to own a house, and in 2000 appeared more likely to rent. They also spent the largest percentage of their income on vehicle purchases. This makes sense at it is probably the first time in their lives that they have purchased a vehicle.


This maybe an area of adult programming that libraries and librarian might want to explore and look to collaborate with other organizations. Purchasing your first car and avoiding the financial pitfalls could be of great benefit to many first-time cay buyers. In a NPR report titled “Are Car Insurers Making Minorities Pay Higher Premiums?”  they shared that white people living in white neighborhoods compared to non-white people living in mostly non-white neighborhoods can pay up to 30% less for their car insurance. Non-whites are paying a premium for the same insurance. In a Forbes article titled “Women Now Negotiating Better Car Deals than Men.” It outlines how research and spending a little time on learning about profit margins, flooring costs and the dealer cost of the vehicles can all help you negotiate a fair price for yourself and the dealer when it comes time to purchase a vehicle.


Marketing agencies used to love the 20-35 age group, they were the largest group with most the disposable income, but the thrill might be gone.

In a 2012 Times article “The Declining Economic Might of the Once Coveted 18-to-34 Demographic,” it looks at the spending power of this age group. There is an excerpt.


Only 54% of Americans ages 18 to 24 have jobs, the lowest rate since the government started tracking such data in 1948. Young Americans are increasingly likely to live with their parents because they cannot afford to get out on their own, and outstanding student-loan debt is near $1 trillion for the first time ever.


In the Washington Post article titled “Student loans are seen as potential ‘next debt bomb’ for U.S. economy” it reports that the average student senior ends their time at college with approximately $25,000 in debt and goes on to explain how their parents are forced to help supplement the children’s educations.


This maybe another area that we could help, programming that offered financial college planning could have the potential to save our communities thousands of dollars in educational expenses.


I feel that I have only scratched the surface on this topic. I wanted to end with something fun as the other topics in this post seemed a little bleak and serious. This graphic is taken from The Atlantic “35 Amazing Graphs That Show How Your Spending Habits Change With Age” If all else fails we can offer programs that can help and inform purchasing in this area of toys, games. This is what parents are thinking about purchasing for birthdays and holidays and we might what to find ways for them to get the best value for their dollar. As an example Square Trade is a viable option for those wanting to insure expensive items but not go through the traditional in-store insure.