The U.S. government is reporting that the country's image that most homes are filled with married couples is now a thing of the past.
In 1950, more than three-quarters of American households were occupied by married couples, and married couples with children were often celebrated in television shows of the era. But the government's Census Bureau reported that last year married couples represented just 48 percent of U.S. households, the first time the figure has dropped below half.
At the same time, the number of traditional families, defined as married couples with children, now comprises only one of every five households, down from about a quarter in the past decade.
The number of unmarried couples living together in the United States has markedly increased, to about one of every eight households, a 25 percent jump in the last 10 years.
The government report said some of the highest concentrations of households with unmarried couples are in older industrial cities in the country's northeastern sector, where the job outlook is more limited than elsewhere. Analysts say that couples with uncertain employment prospects often hesitate to get married until they are more certain of their economic future.
Americans are also living longer, so many households now include a growing number of elderly singles.