NewsHour Twitter Chat: What’s the Economic Impact of the Rise of Single U.S. Adults?

Last Updated by Nora Daly | Audience Engagement Specialist | PBS NewsHour on

Every month the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases an “Employment Situation Summary” based on current employment and population statistics the agency collects. While looking over the August report, economist Edward Yardeni noticed something surprising — the majority, 50.2 percent, of U.S. adults are now single.

At first glance, it appears this data could have an extreme economic impact. After all, fewer couples tying the knot could mean a decrease in home ownership and spending on things like childcare. Yardeni has also argued that an increase in the number of single-person households has exaggerated U.S. income inequality, stating that although these households have lower annual earnings, their expenses are fewer than those of a couple or a family.

However, as Facebook user Brenda Hill was quick to point out, “Single doesn’t mean what it used to.” Another user commented on the original NewsHour article reporting Yardeni’s findings, “there is one area that the statistics cannot easily capture which I think slightly skews the data, namely a couple living together that chooses not to get married. They would both file their taxes as single.” Divorced and widowed individuals are also counted as single in the BLS data, meaning the nation’s aging population could be behind the steady increase.

What do you think? Is the BLS data strong enough to support Yardeni’s findings? What social and economic factors are behind the decline in matrimony? Is this trend a result of the nation’s economic downturn? Will it contribute to it? Tell us in a Twitter chat, 1-2 p.m. EDT this Thursday, Sept. 18. Economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13) will share his insights. Follow the conversation and jump in using#NewsHourChats

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