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The share of couples who are not married has risen in many places but is highest in areas that offer many people grim prospects for a better financial future: old industrial cities and the Mississippi Delta.
Unmarried couples made up 12% of U.S. couples in 2010, a 25% increase in 10 years, according to Census data out today.
Two-thirds of the cities with the largest shares of unmarried couples were in the Northeast and Midwest, up from about half a decade earlier.
In Camden, N.J., 35% of couples are not married, up from 28% in 2000 and the highest of any city with at least 50,000 people. Other cities where more couples are choosing not to marry: Rochester, N.Y., 33%, up from 26%; Flint, Mich., 29%, up from 21%; Cleveland, 27%, up from 20%.
“Couples whose employment opportunities are more precarious tend not to marry,” says Stephanie Coontz, sociologist with the Council on Contemporary Families. Many “are hedging their bets — waiting to see if they can improve their long-term odds by making sure they’re economically and emotionally secure with each other.”