SEBRING - Yet another sign that the economy is better? The divorce rate keeps getting worse.
The number of Americans divorcing has climbed for a third straight year to 2.4 million in 2012, and U.S. Census statistics show Americans aren't rushing to the altar either.
In Highlands County, the number of marriages has declined 18 percent in the past six years, even though divorces are also down.
The U.S. marriage rate is at an all-time low: 51 percent of adults were married in 2011.
Even so, especially for life-long singles, marriage remains a goal: 61 percent men and women want to get hitched, according to a 2010 Pew Research survey. Only 12 percent never want to marry; 27 percent are not so sure.
Interestingly, single and divorced households may be better for the economy, according to a 2014 Bloomberg report. The 5.3 million new households formed in the past four years "is bolstering the need for apartments, condos and furnishings."
"Separations and divorce often create additional housing demand by creating two households when there was one," David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington told Bloomberg. Divorces are also prompting more women to enter the labor force.
Why aren't people marrying? Blame it on love.
Ninety-three percent of married men and women say love is "a very important reason to get married;" 84 percent of unmarried people agree. In fact, Pew said, love wins out over "making a lifelong commitment," as well as "companionship," "having children," and "financial stability" as the reason to wed.
Seven in 10 Americans pooh-pooh the idea of one true love. However, among divorced adults, only 29 percent say they want to march down the aisle one more time. A mere 8 percent of widows and widowers want to wed again.
Men and women's attitudes about marrying for the first time are not different among young adults. But among never-married adults ages 30 to 50, 27 percent of men and only 8 percent of women say they don't want to marry.
Never-marrieds are pokier than ever. In 2011, the median age at first marriage was at a record high: age 29 for men and 27 for women.
As recently as the early 1980s, the median age was 25 for men and 22 for women. In 1970, 57 percent of men married by age 24; 88 percent of women married by age 24.
Just as television has fragmented from three channels in the 1970s to an uncountable number today, marriage also has more competition. The choices include living alone, living with an unmarried partner, living with children, living with mom or dad, living with roommates, and living with a romantic same-sex partner. A rising share of births are to unmarried mothers, meaning marriage is no longer seen by many as the only gateway to parenthood.
Although marriage is an important goal for most Americans, it may not be their top priority. Having a successful marriage is just "one of the most important things" in life for 36 percent of adults, according to Pew Research; 48 said it is "very important but not the most" important. firstname.lastname@example.org