Category Archives: Social Security

Social Insecurity


My favorite time of the year is when I get that statement from the Social Security Administration telling me how much money I have made each year. I’m less interested in how much I made last year as I am years ago.
1969 – $529: seven months as a page at the Binghamton Public Library
1970 – $102: I have no idea
1971 – $3,371: six months working at IBM before I went to college. This would be the most money I would make until 1978. I made enough to pay for my college expenses and to lend my parents $1500 for the down payment on a house. Tuition was cheap, and I had a Regents scholarship to SUNY New Paltz.
I worked odd jobs during college, making as much as $2,661 in 1975 and $50 – $50? in 1976.
1978 – $7,434: I was a teller for the Albany Savings Bank for one month, where I was making $6,000 a year, less than what I had in my drawer on state paydays, before I quit to work for the Schenectady Arts Council, at $8,400/year. Unfortunately, that CETA job ended early in 1979.
Then from 1980-1988, I could see my pay progress at FantaCo in Albany, only to drop back in 1989, when I worked for Empire Blue Cross. I mention this specifically because there were some people at the time who thought I was crazy to work at a “funny book” store, but I was making more money there than the “respectable” insurance company, thank you.
I’ve been working my current job since 1992, and the thing particularly of interest is how much putting aside money for health costs alters the bottom line.

Oh, the other interesting thing on this SSA form is my estimated benefits if I retire at 62, 66 or 70. Especially heartening is this little caveat: “The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2037, the payroll taxes will be enough to pay only about 76 percent of scheduled benefits.” Of course, I have a five-year old; I’ll NEVER retire.
ROG

The Name Game

No doubt you saw the story a few weeks ago about how Emma supplanted Emily as the most popular name for a baby girl, while, on the boys’ side, Jacob held steady.

There’s much more at Social Security’s Popular Baby Names site such as the names of twins born in 2008, by rank:
1 Jacob, Joshua 69
2 Daniel, David 59
3 Jayden, Jordan 56
4 Ethan, Evan 50
5 Taylor, Tyler 43
6 Gabriella, Isabella 42

Interesting stuff. The problem I have with most of the the stories is that it doesn’t tell you the change in the nature of naming children.

For instance, below are percentages of boys, girls born with these names:
1880
1 John 8.1541%, Mary 7.2381%
2 William 8.0511%, Anna 2.6678%
3 James 5.0057%, Emma 2.0521%
4 Charles 4.5167%, Elizabeth 1.9865%
5 George 4.3292%, Minnie 1.7888%
6 Frank 2.7380%, Margaret 1.6167%
7 Joseph 2.2229%, Ida 1.5081%
8 Thomas 2.1401%, Alice 1.4487%
9 Henry 2.0641%, Bertha 1.3523%
10 Robert 2.0404%, Sarah 1.3196%

1930

1 Robert 5.5021%, Mary 5.4969%
2 James 4.7781%, Betty 3.2794%
3 John 4.6417%, Dorothy 2.6064%
4 William 4.1855%, Helen 1.7076%
5 Richard 2.8491%, Margaret 1.5743%
6 Charles 2.8197%, Barbara 1.5683%
7 Donald 2.5723%, Patricia 1.3507%
8 George 2.0155%, Joan 1.3280%
9 Joseph 1.8579%, Doris 1.3250%
10 Edward 1.5346%, Ruth 1.2804%

1980
1 Michael 3.7039%, Jennifer 3.2811%
2 Christopher 2.6531%, Amanda 2.0132%
3 Jason 2.5994%, Jessica 1.9064%
4 David 2.2600%, Melissa 1.7776%
5 James 2.1205%, Sarah 1.4464%
6 Matthew 2.0417%, Heather 1.1223%
7 Joshua 1.9454%, Nicole 1.1189%
8 John 1.9018%, Amy 1.1148%
9 Robert 1.8475%, Elizabeth 1.0972%
10 Joseph 1.6285%, Michelle 1.0743%

2008
1 Jacob 1.0355%, Emma 0.9043%
2 Michael 0.9437%. Isabella 0.8941%
3 Ethan 0.9301%, Emily 0.8377%
4 Joshua 0.8799%, Madison 0.8199%
5 Daniel 0.8702%, Ava 0.8198%
6 Alexander 0.8566%, Olivia 0.8196%
7 Anthony 0.8442%, Sophia 0.7729%
8 William 0.8438%, Abigail 0.7250%
9 Christopher 0.8268%, Elizabeth 0.5748%
10 Matthew 0.8061%, Chloe 0.5692%

In 1880, two boy names were used by almost one-sixth of the population, while Mary was nearly thrice as popular as the next most popular girl’s name. By 2008, the #1 names was considerably less dominant than the #10 names in 1980.

I decided to pick out some boys’ and girls’ names not entirely at random to note their trends.

Male

Roger
1880-349
1930-57
1980-134
2008-463
highest year-22 in 1945 (unsurprisingly)

Darrin
not in top 1000 until 1959
1980-505
not in top 1000 since 2004
highest year-102 in 1965

Gordon
1880-233
1930-77
1980-345
2008-946
highest year-70 in 1935

Rex
1880-519
1930-233
1980-488
2008-799
not in top 1000 in 1999-2002
highest year-171 in 1951

Arthur
1880-14
1930-23
1980-147
2008-363
highest year-14 in 1880-1884, 1886-1899, 1901

Norman
1880-133
1930-40
1980-286
not in top 1000 since 2005
highest year-36 in 1931

Leslie
1880-167
1930-139
1980-354
not in top 1000 since 1997
highest year-81 in 1895

Female

Carol
1880-685
1930-54
1980-232
not in top 1000 in 1883
not in top 1000 since 2006
highest year-4 in 1941

Lydia
1880-77
1930-233
1980-287
2008-120
highest year-75 in 1883

Gertrude
1880-25
1930-96
not in top 1000 since 1965
highest year-22 in 1906

Marcia
1880-614
1930-231
1980-414
not in top 1000 in 1992
not in top 1000 since 1994
highest year-74 in 1951

Gladys
1880-370
1930-48
1980-628
not in top 1000 in 1998
not in top 1000 since 1999
highest year-11 in 1901

Karen
1880-not in top 1000 until 1881
1930-687
1980-54
2008-183
not in top 1000 in 1882-1884, 1888, 1891, 1895-1905, 1907-1911, 1913-1917, 1919-1923, 1925, 1925, 1927
highest year-3 in 1965

Leslie
1880-655
1930-601
1980-61
2008-147
highest year-56 in 1981

Note that the specific spelling matters. For instance, on the boys’ side in 2008, Arthur is #363, but, separately, Arturo is #352. Similarly, on the girls’ 2008 list, Leslie is #147 and Lesly, #447; Lesley fell off the chart in 2008.

Having spent all this time on FIRST names, you may want to check out this database which allows you to search a last name and see how it ranks nationally, with racial demographic breakdowns (provided by U.S. Census Bureau).

Finally, I’m in the mood for a little Shirley Ellis:

Just don’t try Chuck.

ROG