U.S. Marriage Rate Reaches Lowest Point Ever Recorded, Report Finds

A couple place rings on each other’s fingers during a much small wedding ceremony in Mukilteo, Wash., March 20, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

Americans are getting married at the lowest rate ever recorded, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics, with the lead author for the report calling the moment “historic.”

The U.S. marriage rate fell 6 percent in 2018 to only 6.5 new unions formed for every 1,000 people, the lowest number since the government began keeping data in 1867. The number is nearly 10 points lower than the peak rate during World War II, with 1946 having the record-high of 16.4 marriages per 1,000 people. Marriage rates steadily declined from 1982 to 2009, before steadying and slightly increasing in 2014.

Sally Curtin, a statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics and the lead author of the report, warned that the rate could be further impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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“A lot of it is the economy, and the extent to which Covid has a lasting effect on the economy, it might affect family formation,” Curtin told the Wall Street Journal.

The economy has taken a nosedive since vast swaths of the country were forced to shutdown in March, with gross domestic product contracting 4.8 percent in the first quarter — the worst since 2008 — and economists estimating a further fall of approximately 20 to 40 percent in the second quarter.

The Department of Labor also reported Thursday that 3.8 million Americans filed new jobless claims last week, bringing the total number to over 30 million claims, or 18 percent of the total workforce, since the lockdowns began.

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