WASHINGTON — Single Americans make up more than half of the adult population for the first time since the government began compiling such statistics in 1976.
Some 124.6 million Americans were single in August, 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly job-market report. That percentage had been hovering just below 50 percent since about the beginning of 2013 before edging above it in July and August. In 1976, it was 37.4 percent and has been trending upward since.
In a report to clients entitled “Selfies,” economist Edward Yardeni flagged the increase in the proportion of singles to more than 50 percent, calling it “remarkable.” The president of Yardeni Research Inc. in New York said the rise has “implications for our economy, society and politics.”
Singles, particularly younger ones, are more likely to rent than to own their dwellings. Never-married young singles are less likely to have children and previously married older ones, many of whom have adult children, are unlikely to have young kids, Yardeni wrote. That will influence how much money they spend and what they buy.
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He argued the increase in single-person households also is exaggerating income inequality in the U.S.
“While they have less household earnings than married people, they also have fewer expenses, especially if there are no children in their households,” Yardeni wrote.
The percentage of adult Americans who have never married has risen to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976, while the proportion that are divorced, separated or widowed increased to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent, according to the economist.
Yardeni is known in the financial markets for coining the phrase “bond vigilantes” in the 1980s to describe investors who were selling Treasury securities because of fears about big U.S. budget deficits.