Census Bureau: New survey shows same-sex households now top 1 million

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 1,204 views 

The U.S. Census Bureau released new estimates Tuesday (Nov. 19) showing there are now more than 1 million same-sex couple households in the agency’s annual snapshot of American families and their living arrangements.

According to estimates from the bureau’s 2019 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS), there are 543,000 same-sex married couple households and 469,000 households with same-sex unmarried partners living together. This compares to 61.4 million opposite-sex married and 8 million opposite-sex unmarried partner households. In addition, 191,000 children live with same-sex parents, the survey said.

Over the past 10 years, the Census Bureau said it has conducted extensive research to improve the measurement of same-sex couples. This resulted in a revised household relationship question that was implemented in the American Community Survey in 2019 and will be included in the 2020 Census, officials said.

“This improved measure will allow the Census Bureau to further explore the characteristics of same-sex households, as well as the cities they’re in,” Danielle Taylor, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics division, wrote in article highlighting the new same-sex couple estimates.

In a sampling of Census Bureau data under the previous American Community Survey (ACS) that estimated there were just under a million same-sex couple households in the U.S. in 2017, more than half (51.7%) of them were female coupled households. That same data show there were 6,233 same-sex couples in Arkansas in 2017, but the new CPS survey does not breakdown the new estimates by state.

The Census Bureau said it made the recent changes in the annual CPS survey to better gauge the makeup of U.S. households. Among those updates are a question to each householder that has opposite-sex or same-sex options and adds gender-neutral parent identification that allows respondents to classify as having two mothers or two fathers present in the home.

The Census Bureau, which is housed in the U.S. Department of Commerce, said the focus on same-sex couples reflects growing family diversity in the U.S., which also includes unmarried partners living together. Among adults ages 18 and over, 18.5 million (7%) are living together, up from 14.2 million (6%) in 2009. Cohabiting couples also compose a larger share of all coupled households now, accounting for 12% of coupled households compared to 10% in 2009.

On Tuesday, the bureau released its strategic plan showing how the country will be asked to respond to the 2020 Census. Nearly every household will be invited to respond online, by phone or by mail to the census starting in mid-March 2020.

Last month, the Census launched a national recruitment effort to hire approximately 500,000 temporary workers to help conduct the 2020 Census. Nearly 4,000 local recruiting events are scheduled to take place this week in communities across the nation.

“We need people to apply now so they can be considered for part-time census taker positions next spring,” said Timothy Olson, Census Bureau associate director for Field Operations. “Recent high school graduates, veterans, retirees, military spouses, seasonal workers and applicants who are bilingual are highly encouraged to apply. It’s important we hire people in every community in order to have a complete and accurate census.”

Census takers will be hired to work in their communities and go door-to-door to collect responses from those who do not respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail. In certain remote areas like northern Maine and Alaska, census takers are the only way people can respond to the 2020 Census.

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Arkansas Census 2020 Complete-Count Committee also held its first meeting last month to make sure Arkansas is accurately counted during the upcoming survey, especially in areas of the state that U.S. Commerce Department officials have determined as “hard-to-count” census tracts. That 20-person panel, chaired by Fort Smith Mayor Fort Smith George McGill, will meet monthly. A more complete “Census Day” report will be submitted by the panel to the governor by April 1, 2020 and a final narrative no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

Other highlights of the bureau’s 2019 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS) include:

  • There are 36.5 million one-person households, which is 28% of all households. In 1960, one-person households represented only 13% of all households.
  • The number of families with children under 18 present has declined in the last two decades. In 2019, 41% of all families lived with their own children under 18, compared to 45% in 2009 and 48% in 1999.
  • In 2019, 32% of all adults age 15 and over had never been married, up from 23% in 1950. The estimated median age to marry for the first time is 29.8 for men and 28.0 for women, up from ages 23.7 and 20.5, respectively, in 1947.
  • Over a quarter (26%) of children under age 15 living in married-couple families have a stay-at-home mother, compared to only 1% with a stay-at-home father.
  • More than half (54%) of young adults ages 18 to 24 live in their parental home, compared to 16% of those ages 25 to 34.