Be Ready For The New American Household

379px-Adv_of_Ozzie_and_Harriet_Nelson_Family_1952For the first time ever, there are more single adults than married adults in the United States.

That has huge implications for our society, and since small businesses are a major component of our society, this shifting demographic – one of many, by the way – should be carefully considered when mapping out future business plans.

Some differences are pretty obvious. Singles are more likely to rent than own their own homes. Singles are also less likely to have children. By the way, it seems to me that married couples are also less likely to have children today, and certainly they have smaller families.

How time is spent

Those basic facts will impact business trends greatly in coming years, but there are more. Back in 2003, the  Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) studied different habits between single and married adults. Outlined below are some of the findings.

Here are some areas where married people spend more time when compared to singles:

  • Household activities. Two hours and four minutes each day versus one hour and 24 minutes.
  • Buying things. 47 minutes a day versus 40 minutes.
  • Religious and civic activities. 23 minutes a day versus 16 minutes.

Here are some areas where single people spend more time each day when compared to marrieds:

  • Educational activities. 56 minutes a day versus five minutes.
  • Personal care (includes sleep). Nine hours 47 minutes versus nine hours and 13 minutes.
  • Socializing, sports and leisure activities. Five hours and 48 minutes versus four hours and 57 minutes.

The numbers that really jump out are the areas where singles invest more of their time. I would factor out about eight hours of sleep time for both groups and when that’s done, education, personal care and social activities rate much more highly for singles than married people.

How money is spent

More recently, the BLS looked at 20-somethings, both married and single and how they spend their money. Singles spend more on food, alcohol, housing, clothing, and education. Married people generally spend more on transportation, health care, entertainment, and personal insurance and pensions.

As the number of single adults continues its climb, strengthening its position of dominance, small business owners need to recognize this as a growth group and plan future expansion and marketing with this in mind.

For example, in real estate, planning an apartment building could be wiser than planning a condominium development. And because “household activities” includes cleaning and cooking, we will see even more growth in home cleaning and cooking services.

By the way, looking a earnings figures of single versus married people in their 20s, while marrieds have an advantage in their younger years, by age 29, the groups are almost the same. That creates some good marketing opportunities for business.

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Image: “Adv of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson Family 1952” by Press materials are presumed to have been distributed by the ABC Television Network, which was the network that aired the series. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.