New Economic Reality Impacts Everyday Life

The long recession has dramatically impacted the lives of all Americans, according to demographic data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Commutes are lengthier; people are not moving; immigration is down; and couples are delaying marriage.  The annual American Community Survey report, based on information gleaned from three million households, highlights how deeply the recession impacted all Americans.

The number of people who drive solo to work fell last year to 75.5 percent, the lowest in a decade.  Yet, the average commute time rose to 25.5 minutes, as people left home earlier in the morning to pick up car-pooling co-workers.  Mobility is at a 60-year low, which will impact congressional district reapportionment based on 2010 census data.  The number of foreign-born individuals living in the United States fell to less than 38 million, after reaching an all-time high in 2007.

Of Americans over the age of 15, 31.2 percent reported that they had never been married, the highest percentage in a decade.  According to the survey, the number of unmarried Americans started climbing when the housing market downturn started in 2006.  Sociologists believe that young people are taking more time to achieve economic independence because they are having trouble landing well-paying jobs or are studying for advanced degrees.

“The recession has affected everybody in one way or another as families use lots of different strategies to cope with a new economic reality,” according to Mark Mather, associate vice president of the not-for-profit Population Reference Bureau.  “Job loss – or the potential for job loss – also leads to feelings of economic insecurity and can create social tension.”  With unemployment still rising, Mather notes that “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”