- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The percentage of U.S. households composed of married couples and their minor children fell in the past six years, according to the Census Bureau, which is releasing 1,200 data tables of its American Community Survey today.

The in-depth annual survey also shows that the District has one of the highest rates of “elderly” employment, and Maryland workers have some of the longest commute times.

The ACS was started about a decade ago and collects data from 3 million addresses, including households, nursing homes and college residences. It is designed to replace the long-form census taken every decade because “10 years is too long to wait for detailed census data,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.

ACS data released today examines social, economic and housing characteristics and can be searched by areas that have a population of at least 65,000.

The portion of U.S. households composed of married couples and their minor children fell from 24 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2006.

The bureau does not interpret demographic changes, but family scholars link falling marriage rates to the growing popularity of cohabiting.

Virginia and Maryland looked like the rest of the nation, with 22 percent of homes composed of married couples with children. West Virginia came close, with 19 percent. The District, however, had one of the lowest rates of married-couple-with-children households: 7 percent.

The ACS also collects data on the number of households led by cohabiting couples. Locally, about 5 percent of households in Maryland and West Virginia were led by unmarried opposite-sex partners, followed by Virginia (3.8 percent) and the District (3.4 percent). Regarding homosexual couples, the District reported 1.4 percent of households led by same-sex partners while Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia each reported less than 1 percent.

The number of elderly Americans working or looking for work has climbed, the bureau said. In 2000, less than 20 percent of people ages 65 to 74 were in the labor force. By 2006, that had risen to 23 percent.

South Dakota has the highest rate of employed seniors. Nearly 9 percent of its residents 75 or older and 32 percent of its residents ages 65 to 74 are employed.

The District also has a high rate of senior employment, with 8 percent of its 75-and-older residents and 32 percent of its 65-to-74-year-olds bringing home a paycheck.

The ACS also tracks commute times. In 2006, New York had the longest average home-to-work commute time, with 30.9 minutes, just slightly longer than Maryland’s time of 30.6 minutes. D.C. residents’ average commute was 29.2 minutes, while Virginia’s was 26.9 minutes and West Virginia’s was 25.6 minutes.

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