As the coronavirus pandemic continues, millions of Americans are hunkering down at home. Working from the kitchen table, homeschooling, and attending virtual happy hours have become the new normal. But for the 34 million adults who live alone in the U.S., the pandemic and economic downturn bring a unique set of challenges, both financial and psychological. Shelter-in-place and social distancing orders can amplify loneliness for people who live by themselves. At the same time, those suffering job losses and other financial hardships can’t rely on a significant other or roommate to help cover essential costs.
Data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) shows that the share of adults who live alone has nearly doubled in the last 50 years. In 2019, 14.6 percent of adults lived by themselves. The rise of single-person households is due to a variety of factors, including rising incomes, migration from rural areas to cities, and increased female labor force participation.
Nationally, nearly 15 percent of people live alone. However, the share of people who live alone varies considerably across different locations and among different demographic groups, making certain populations more at risk of financial distress and feelings of social isolation during the pandemic.
Americans over 75 are the most likely age group to live alone, largely as a result of spouses or domestic partners passing away. People aged 18 to 24, on the other hand, have the lowest rates of living alone, given that many individuals in this younger age group either still live with their parents or live with roommates to save money.
With regard to gender, men aged 25 to 64 are more likely than women to live by themselves, but this trend reverses for individuals over age 65. Differences in age at first marriage, likeliness to remarry, and life expectancy explain much of the divergent trends in living patterns for men and women.
Patterns of adults living alone also vary significantly by location. At the state level, North Dakota has the largest share of adults who live by themselves at 18.2 percent, while Utah has the smallest share at just 8.9 percent. Ohio, Maine, and Vermont also have high rates of people living alone, all at nearly 17 percent. Hawaii and California, states with high living costs, join Utah in having much lower shares of adults who live alone, at 10.4 and 10.5 percent, respectively.
To determine the states with the most adults living alone, researchers at Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked states according to the share of adults 18 years and over who live alone. Researchers also looked at the percentage of households with one resident, the total number of adults living alone, median personal income, and median monthly housing costs.
The analysis found that 1,141,601 North Carolina adults live alone, which is 14.6% of all adults in the state. Here is a summary of the data for North Carolina:
- Percentage of adults who live alone: 14.6%
- Percentage of households with one resident: 28.5%
- Total number of adults living alone: 1,141,601
- Median personal income: $31,977
- Median monthly housing costs: $909
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Percentage of adults who live alone: 13.8%
- Percentage of households with one resident: 28.0%
- Total number of adults living alone: 34,048,851
- Median personal income: $35,291
- Median monthly housing costs: $1,082