More Americans Living Alone Than Ever Before, US Census Bureau Says

The number of Americans living alone has tripled since 1970, according to some new numbers released by the United States Census Bureau on Tuesday.

The new data is from the 2012 Current Population Survey and 2011 American Community Survey. And, according to the results published by USA Today, more than one in four households is a single American living alone — a startling 27.5 percent.

That’s a significant rise over the 5.1 percent single households in 1900. And it’s still a healthy rise over the 17 percent single households in 1970.

The growing number of Americans living alone is particularly interesting because of the recent economic downturn and the slow recovery. In years gone by, Americans may have been tempted to save money by sharing households.

But it really doesn’t work out that way any more.

The Los Angeles Times looked at the US Census Bureau data too. And they pointed out that the numbers of young people living alone fell only slightly between 2007 and 2012 — from 8 to 7 percent.

Their expert, Eric Klinenberg, pointed out that economic downturns also stop people from getting married. He’s the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.

The US marriage rate did in fact hit an all-time low two years ago. Married couples with children now make up less than 20 percent of American households. Forty years ago, they represented 40 percent of households.

But people could still be roomies without getting married if they thought it would save money. Maybe by this time of century, everybody has already figured out that it doesn’t. I don’t know how many times a roommate has to drink all your booze or borrow your credit card before you catch the clue train.

And there’s a second, more positive reason for the US Census Bureau finding that more Americans live alone. Thanks to medical advances, older people stay healthier longer, putting off the day when they have to give up their own homes.

[photo by KAMONRAT via Shutterstock]

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