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What the New American Household Means to Your Business

March 27th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

How are the demographics of U.S. households changing—and what does it mean to your small business? SmartBlog on Leadership recently rounded up some data from the U.S. Census that paints a picture of the new makeup of the “average” American household. Here’s some of what they found:

Husband and Wife on the Decline: The traditional, husband-and-wife household is on the decline. In 2000, 51.7% of households were husband and wife; that went down to 48.4% in 2010. While the percentage decreased, the sheer number increased: In 2000, there were 54.5 million husband/wife households and in 2010, there were 56.5 million. One area where husband/wife households tend to dominate is near military bases.

While the percentage of husband/wife households shrank, the percentage and number of unmarried, opposite-sex partners rose from 4.8 million (4.6 percent of all households) in 2000 to 7.7 million (5.9 percent of all households) in 2010.

Non-family Households on the Rise: Correspondingly, the number of non-family households (people living together who are not related and not married) increased. As of 2010, 33.6% of U.S. households were identified as non-family.

Solo Households Increase: Most non-family households are made up of people living alone. The percentage of single-person households rose from 25.8 percent (27.2 million people) in 2000 to 26.7 percent (31.2 million people) in 2010. One-person households exist in all parts of the country—not just in the urban areas that you might expect. There are two key demographic segments that make up a large percentage of the one-person households, and they’re pretty much polar opposites. The first is young, well-educated singles who are starting their professional careers; they tend to live in large urban areas. The second is older retirees, who are frequently living in rented apartments or subsidized housing.

Multi-generational Households Surge: The percentage of multi-generational households (defined has having three or more generations of relatives living together) has also grown, from 3.7% of households in 2000 to 4.4% in 2010. This is partly due to economic hard times and the difficulty of finding affordable housing, but also due to the growth of the immigrant population.  The Census Bureau says multi-generational households are most commonly found in areas with a lot of new immigrants or where a lot of children are born to single mothers. Hawaii, California and Texas have the highest percentage of multigenerational households, partly because these areas have a large immigrant and minority population.

What do these trends mean to your business? If your products or services, or the way you market them, are tailored to traditional, two-parent households, it may be time to shake things up—or get left behind as America’s average household continues to change.

Image by Flickr user Images of Money (Creative Commons)


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