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U.S. recession puts damper on marriage, mobility

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by BAK, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

    Sep 22, 2009
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    U.S. recession puts damper on marriage, mobility: survey

    Last Updated: Tuesday, September 22, 2009


    The recession is having a profound effect on the lives of Americans, with more people delaying marriage, staying put rather than moving to new cities and turning to carpools or public transit, according to a survey released Tuesday.

    The annual American Community Survey, which gathered information from three million U.S. households, found that 31.2 per cent of respondents aged 15 and over had never been married, the highest level in a decade. That number had hovered for years around 27 per cent before beginning to climb during the housing downturn in 2006.

    The never-married included three-quarters of men in their 20s and two-thirds of women in that age range. Sociologists say younger people are taking longer to reach economic independence and consider marriage because they're struggling to find work or focusing on an advanced education.

    Preliminary data released earlier also found that more Americans were staying put in big cities rather than migrating to the Sunbelt, partly because of frozen lines of credit.
    Mobility is now at a 60-year low, upending population trends ahead of the 2010 census that will be used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    "The recession has affected everybody in one way or another as families use lots of different strategies to cope with a new economic reality," said Mark Mather, associate vice-president of the non-profit Population Reference Bureau. "Job loss — or the potential for job loss — also leads to feelings of economic insecurity and can create social tension."

    "It's just the tip of the iceberg," he said, noting that unemployment is still rising.
    Commute times increasing

    The percentage of people who drove alone to work in 2008 dropped to 75.5 per cent, the lowest in a decade, as commuters grew weary of paying more than $1 US a litre for gasoline and opted to carpool or take public transportation.

    Twenty-two states had declines in solo drivers compared with the year before, with the rest statistically unchanged. The decreases were particularly evident in states with higher traffic congestion, such as Maryland, Texas and Washington.

    Average commute times edged up to 25.5 minutes — the same level as 2000 — erasing years of decreases as people had to leave home earlier in the morning to pick up friends for their ride to work or to catch a bus or subway train.

    The number of people who carpooled to work rose to 10.7 per cent, up from 10.4 per cent in the previous year. Commuters who used public transit increased to five per cent, the highest in six years, with Washington, D.C., at the top.
    Across the country, more than one in eight workers, or 17.5 million, were out the door by 6 a.m.
    Other findings of the survey included:
    • Health insurance coverage varied widely by region. Massachusetts, with its universal coverage law, had fewer than one in 20 uninsured residents — the lowest in the U.S. Texas had the highest share, at one in four, largely because of illegal Hispanic immigrants excluded from government-sponsored and employer-provided plans.
    • The foreign-born population dipped to under 38 million, or 12.5 per cent, after reaching an all-time high in 2007. Of that number, it's estimated that 11.9 million are in the U.S. illegally.
    • In three large metro areas — Miami, Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif. — more than one-third of all residents are foreign-born.
    • The home ownership rate fell to 66.6 per cent last year, the lowest in six years, after hitting a peak of 67.3 per cent in 2006.
    • More older people are working. About 15.5 per cent of respondents 65 and over, or 6.1 million, were in the labour force, up from 15 per cent in 2007.
    With files from The Associated Press