Just over half of American adults are single

Not only are single-person households the number one household type, now more than 50% of American adults are single:

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 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.

He argued the increase in single-person households also is exaggerating income inequality in the U.S…

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.

This demographic trend is occurring for multiple reasons – decline in marriage, economic troubles, more people experiencing divorce and then not getting remarried, more opportunities like education for women – and is likely to have multiple consequences as briefly mentioned above.

A “single lifestyle” the primary factor in making a city one of the worst for singles?

A recent list of the “10 Worst Cities for Singles” uses this criteria:

How did we come up with our list of the worst cities for singles? We started by looking for metropolitan areas with more than 125,000 people. Then we penalized places with small populations of singles, including the never-married, divorced and widowed. The share of unmarried residents in each of these bottom-ten cities is well shy of the national average.

Financial indicators didn’t boost the cities’ attractiveness. Although many of these areas boast below-average living costs, paychecks typically are way below average, too. We also factored in education level, keeping in mind that people with bachelor’s and advanced degrees are more likely to be gainfully employed. After all, you can’t exactly rock the single lifestyle without the earnings to fund it.

So there two primary factors in this analysis:

1. The number of single people. Presumably this has something to do with an exciting social scene, a la the culture and scene sought by the creative class. However, just measuring the number of single people doesn’t necessarily signal a more or less exciting cultural and entertainment scene.

2. The financial indicators are mainly about income, suggesting that single workers don’t want to be in places without high incomes. Does this mean younger workers only want higher-paying jobs? Is a high paying job the number one goal? The last line in the second paragraph above drives this point home: younger workers want a flashier “single lifestyle.”

All this seems to make some assumptions about single workers: they want high incomes, they want other singles around, and they want to “rock the single lifestyle.” While this may be the case for a number of them, it does highlight some different reasons for moving that are fairly accepted in American society today:

1. Economics. People need jobs. They should move where the jobs are. Young workers are particularly assumed to be more mobile and willing to move.

2. Finding exciting cultural centers. Places like Austin are held up as cities where one should move to enjoy life.

Are there other acceptable reasons for choosing where to live?