Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Fewer Households in 2020

The number of households in the United States fell in 2020 for the first time in the history of the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey household series dating back to 1960. The decline was small—a loss of just 128,000 households between March 2019 and March 2020—but even a small decline is significant. It marks the turmoil of the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, when many left their homes to join family and friends for what seemed at the time to be a short-lived disruption.

Usually, the number of households in the U.S. grows by more than 1 million a year. That has been the case in 41 of the past 70 years. The largest single-year gain was in 1980, when the number of households surged by 3.4 million. The smallest increase was in 2009—up by just 357,000 in the aftermath of the Great Recession. 

Households did not decline in every demographic segment, of course. Here are the segments with the biggest losses...

Householders under age 30: The number of households headed by people under age 30 fell by more than 1.2 million between 2019 and 2020—an 8 percent decline. Some of the shrinkage can be accounted for by college students living off campus who returned to their parents' home when college classes went online. (Students living in college-owned housing are already counted as living with their parents.) 

Single-person households: The number of people who live alone fell by 281,000 between March 2019 and March 2020. Almost the entire decline occurred among men who live alone, their number falling by 273,000 versus an 8,000 decline for women. Why the difference? Most women who live alone are aged 55 or older. Most men who live alone are under age 55. Because of the age difference, women who live alone are less likely to be college students and less likely than their male counterparts to be hurt by the Covid-19 Recession. 

Asian, Black, and Hispanic households: The number of households headed by Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics fell by a combined 332,000 between March 2019 and March 2020. Asian households saw the largest drop, with 128,000 fewer households in 2020—a 1.8 percent decline. The number of Black households fell by 113,000 and Hispanic households by 91,000. 

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Household Tables

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