Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Why the Decline in Households Headed by 25-to-34-Year-Olds?

The release of 2014 Current Population Survey data a few weeks ago was almost ho-hum. Median household income was unchanged, and there were few clues about emerging trends.

But one thing stood out: the decline in households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds. The number fell by a small but surprising 8,994 between 2013 and 2014. The decline was a surprise because the 25-to-34-year-old population is growing by more than half a million a year, and households headed by the age group had been growing by more than 100,000 a year—until now. What happened?

To find out, let's take a look at which household types in the 25-to-34 age group contributed to the 2013-14 decline: married couples (down 89,216), women who live alone (down 88,688), and men who live alone (down 44,932).

These declines are a sign of economic distress. A Pew Research Center survey has uncovered the reason why so many 25-to-34-year-olds aren't marrying: they're looking for a partner with a steady job. With rents rising and student loan payments looming, fewer can afford to live by themselves while waiting for Mr. (or Ms.) Right. Looking back, we should have seen this coming. Since 2010, the annual increase in the number of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds has been shrinking to the point where there's no increase at all...

Annual change in number of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds
2010-11: 315,000
2011-12: 274,000
2012-13: 171,000
2013-14:    -8,994

In light of this trend, the 2013-14 decline is not a surprise.

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