The Vanishing Married Household?

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Written by: Jonathan Vespa

Did you know that in 1970 married couples with children made up 40 percent of American households? Today, they comprise just 20 percent (see figure). 

 What looks like a dramatic drop in married households may be more of a change in when, and in what order, adults experience certain life events. In other words, a family postponed is not necessarily a family forgone.

Line graph showing changes in U.S. Households by type

 During the 1970s, younger baby boomers were still children living at home. Because boomers were the largest generation in U.S. history, they left a lasting footprint on the makeup of households and family life.

 As those children grew up and moved out, we saw an increase in people living alone while also seeing a decline in households with married parents. Over the last 40 years, the share of adults living alone grew by a third for women. It more than doubled for men.

 These trends also mirror the rising age at marriage, which has climbed by 5 years for men and women since 1970. Whereas previous generations may have lived at home until they married in their early 20s, not only are adults getting married at an older age but they now are often living on their own before tying the knot.  

 Childbearing is an important part of the equation too. Just as adults are waiting longer to marry, they are also delaying having children. The average age when women give birth to their first child has risen from 21 to 25 since 1970. This helps explain why the share of households made up of married parents has fallen so dramatically while that of married couples without children has not.

 To find out more about the composition of modern American families, check out a new report released today, “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012.”

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Public Employment and Public Pensions: A 20-Year Comparison

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Written by: Erika Becker-Medina and Paul Reyes

According to the 2011 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll, there were 19.3 million state and local government employees, with 11.1 million, or 57.3 percent, working in education.

To understand the magnitude of employment in education, consider these two categories of public employment: police protection and corrections with 1.7 million employees and hospitals with 1.1 million employees (9.0 and 5.4 percent respectively, of all state and local government employment).

From 1991 to 2011, the total number of state and local government employees grew 24.9 percent from 15.5 million to 19.3 million. Contributing to the increase in the total number of employees was a 37.0 percent increase in the number of education employees and a 35.0 percent increase in the number of employees in police protection and corrections.

Picture7As the number of state and local government employees grew, the number of state and local government retirees also grew.  Looking back 20 years, there were 4.2 million beneficiaries (retirees and survivors of deceased retirees) and 11.7 million active members (employees who pay into the pension systems) in 1991. According to the 2011 Annual Survey of Public Pensions, there were 8.6 million beneficiaries compared with 14.5 million active members, representing a 106.0 percent increase in beneficiaries but only a 24.2 percent increase in active members.  Considering that 2011 was the year that the first baby boomers turned 65, one may expect the number of retirees to continue to grow.

Picture5For a look at more detailed statistics on public employment and payroll, see the 2011 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll Summary Report.

For more detailed information regarding the revenues, expenditures, investments, and membership information of state and local public pension systems, see the 2011 Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State- and Locally-Administered Defined Benefit Data Summary Report.


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The Difference International Migration Makes in Projections of the U.S. Population

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Written by: Jennifer M. Ortman and David M. Armstrong

Recent Census Bureau projections highlighted that international migration will likely become the main driver of growth of our nation’s population between 2027 and 2038. This range was created from different projections series, which assumed low, middle, and high levels of international migration.

However, it is difficult to anticipate how many individuals will migrate into or out of the United States in the future. What would happen if there were no international migration in the future? What kind of impact would it have on our population?

We produce projections with different assumptions about international migration to help answer this question. Here we compare a series of projections where we assume there is no international migration in the future with the projections that assume there will be international migration.

Projections With versus Without International Migration

By 2060, our middle series projects the population to increase to 420 million with international migration, compared to just 341 without it.

Because immigrants tend to be younger adults, the impact is most noticeable for the population under 65 (see Table 1).  With international migration, the size of the working-age population is projected to increase from 197 million in 2012 to 239 million in 2060. In contrast, in the series without international migration the number of working-age adults (18-64 years) is projected to decrease to 187 million by 2060.

Table showing population by age in 2012 and 2060

The population under 18 years is projected to grow from 74 million in 2012 to 89 million in 2060 with international migration.  Without international migration, the number of children is projected to decrease to 69 million by 2060.

The population 65 years and over is projected to more than double, from 43 million in 2012 to 92 million in 2060. Without international migration, the number of those 65 years and over would still nearly double, from 43 to 85 million.

Illustrating the Differences by Age

To illustrate the differences between the series with and without international migration, we show the projections of the U.S. population by age and sex in 2012 and 2060 in the figures below. Each bar represents the projected size of a particular age category. The red lines divide the figures into children (under 18 years), the working-age population (18 to 64 years), and the older population (65 years and older).

The figures show the projections with international migration (green) and without international migration (blue). Differences at each age between the series with and without international migration in 2060 represent the cumulative difference over the 48-year period of international migration as well as the effects of births to immigrants and the aging of the foreign-born population in the United States.

In 2012 (see Figure 1), we can see that most of the population is under the age of 65. By 2060 (see Figure 2), the share of the population in the oldest ages is projected to increase, which is shown by the increase in the size of the population at the top of the figure. The population in the older ages is projected to increase considerably over the coming decades in both series. Because immigrants tend to be younger adults, international migration makes little difference in the older ages.

Population Pyramid for 2012


Population Pyramid showing projections for 2060

If future levels of international migration differ from what was projected, the growth in children and the working-age population could be very different from what we currently project. Lower international migration results in slower or even negative growth in the size of the child and working-age populations. Higher international migration bolsters the size of these age groups.

Uses of the Population Projections

The Census Bureau’s population projections are used by researchers, policymakers, businesses, and other government agencies for a variety of purposes. A topic of great interest is the aging of the population. Projections of the old-age population are of particular interest for those assessing government programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Projections of the working-age population, typically between the ages of 18 and 64, are of interest to businesses and service providers attempting to evaluate future demand for their products and services as well as the means of supplying those goods. Projections of births and the population under the age of 18 are of interest to those tasked with planning for future demands on the education system.

For Further Information

If you find the discussion above interesting, more is available in our recent population projections release:





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What Languages are Spoken in Your Area?

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Written by: Camille Ryan and Tiffany Julian

Did you know that more than 300 different languages are spoken in the United States? A new report and mapping tool released today by the U.S. Census Bureau takes a detailed look at many of the most popular languages spoken at home in America.

Of the 292 million people age 5 and older in the U.S.  in 2011, 60.6 million individuals, or 21 percent, reported speaking a language other than English at home. This number grew by 158 percent from 1980 to 2010, while the nation’s overall population age 5 years and older grew by 38 percent. Check out this viz-of-the-week to see which languages grew the most.

The statistics show us not only that people spoke a language other than English at home, but also how well they spoke English.

What’s interesting is that while the number of people who speak languages other than English at home continues to grow, the majority speak English “very well,” so the population in need of language assistance has not grown at the same rate. In fact, the overall percentage of the population who spoke English less than “very well” did not change from 2007 to 2011, staying at 8.7 percent.

Young people, native-born citizens, and people who completed college are especially likely to speak English “very well.”

If you are wondering what languages are spoken in your community, you can look it up with a new tool released today. The 2011 Language Mapper illustrates the geographic concentration of the population speaking 15 individual languages. The mapper, which uses data collected in the American Community Survey from 2007 to 2011, also shows, for each of these languages, the concentration of those who spoke English less than “very well.”

Screenshot of mapper tool

The languages available in the mapping tool include Spanish, French, French Creole, Italian, Portuguese, German, Russian, Polish, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Arabic. Dots on the map represent the number of speakers of that language in a given census tract.

The dots become more refined as you zoom into a community and you can turn on street maps to provide context. You can also search for a specific location — type in your address in the top right corner to see how what languages are spoken around you.

For more information, please check out the report, Language Use in the United States: 2011 and use the tool here.

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A Picture of Housing Constructed in 2012

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Written by: Katie McNitt

Did you know that there were 483,000 single-family homes built in the United States in 2012? In addition, there were 166,000 multifamily units completed. How do we know about characteristics of these new homes, such as the number of bedrooms or average square feet?

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Census Bureau released 2012 Characteristics of New Housing.  The publication includes characteristics for privately owned single and multifamily homes and covers topics from the type of foundation to the financing obtained to purchase the home. The report provides current and historical data at both the national and regional level for the majority of the 75 characteristics presented.

Here are some interesting highlights:

Single-Family Homes

In 2012, 483,000 single-family homes were completed.

In 2012, 368,000 single-family homes were sold.

Multifamily Homes

In 2012, 166,000 multifamily units were completed.

Characteristics data are collected monthly through the Survey of Construction.  The Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly fund the survey.

Statistics from the survey have a variety of uses. They are used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop and evaluate housing programs and by other agencies, such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Federal Reserve Board. In addition, manufacturers use estimates from the Survey of Construction to plan production schedules and establish market shares. Insurance companies use estimates to adjust rates and establish replacement costs. Financial institutions use data to estimate mortgage demand.

To see more highlights and view all the characteristics tables, visit the Characteristics of New Housing website.

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