The iconic American household type, staring the married couple and its children, was the only household type to decline over the past decade. The losses of this economic power-household hit some regions harder than others. Forty-one states lost a total of 1.55 million married couples with children between the 2000 and 2010, according to the latest Census figures. Only nine states had an increase, but together they gained only 302,000 such families. Nationwide, that amounts to a net loss of 1.25 million nuclear families.
Two thirds of the decline -- 860,000 families -- came in only eight states, seven of which are in the rapidly aging regions of the Northeast and Midwest.
Why does this matter? Nuclear families account for just one one-fifth of all households but more than one-third (34%) of total consumer spending.
In addition to diminished support for public education, there are other consequences to having fewer married couples with children. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 31% of first-time home buyers and 35% of move-up buyers were married couples with children. Perhaps what's holding back a housing market recovery is 1.25 million fewer prime customers.
Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data show that 79% of married with children families are homeowners. They spend $11,700 more each year on consumer goods than married couples with no kids, $31,700 more than single parents and $39,100 more than single people.
When a million or more married couples with children are replaced by other types of households the loss in retail sales can be measured in tens of billions. The bottom line is that the nation's economic recovery will depend in large measure on how quickly young adult millennials, who are now ages 18 to 34, get married and start having children. Unfortunately, they don't seems to be in any hurry.
Here's a breakdown of household types by state:
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