All the Single Ladies: Unmarried women comprise an increasing share of the population

March 23, 2012 by Experian Marketing Services

Women already account for a majority of the total U.S. population, and in recent years, Experian Simmons found that the share of adult women in this country who are not married rose to nearly half. In 2011, 48% of adult women were not married, up from 45% in 2005. Included in this count are single women (who have never married), women who are separated or divorced and widows. Almost all of the growth, however, is from the single, never married set. In fact, while the percentage of women who are separated, divorced or widowed has remained flat in recent years, the share that has never married increased a relative 15% since 2005. Today, 24% of adult women (12% of all adults) have never made a trip down the aisle, up from 21% in 2005.

Experian Simmons found that the share of adult women in this country who are not married rose to nearly half.

Naturally, the vast majority of single adult women are young. In fact, 65% of women who have never said, “I do” are between the ages of 18 and 34. The typical never married woman is 32.5 years old—almost 15 years younger than the average American woman, who is 47.2 years of age.

Working for less

Today, nearly one-in-six single women are employed either full- or part-time, but employment levels have declined noticeably since the beginning of the “Great Recession.” In fact, for all the talk of the “man-cession,” single women have been disproportionately affected by the economic downturn. Experian Simmons reports that in 2007, 71% of single women were employed, whereas today 58% are employed. The drop is almost entirely due to a loss of full-time working women. In 2007, 53% of single women worked full-time and 18% worked part-time. Today, only 41% work full-time and 18% work part-time. Earnings, too, have taken a tumble. Today, the average single working woman takes home $28,800 a year. In 2008, individual earnings for single working women overall were $30,800, on average. Single women who work full-time bring home $36,000 today, down from $37,600 in 2008.

With so many single women struggling to hold onto their jobs and facing shrinking paychecks, it’s no wonder aggressive attitudes towards work and career have also subsided somewhat. Today, 44% of working single women say, “I want to get to the very top in my career,” down from 50% who agreed with that statement in 2008. Likewise, only 38% of single working women today say, “I would like to set up my own business one day,” down from a high of 46% who had entrepreneurial dreams in 2007.

Queen of the Castle

Despite their relative youth and financial struggles, a majority of single women are still homeowners, yet that figure, too, has declined markedly since the recession. Today, 51% of single women (14.1 million women) own their residence, whereas fully 61% owned in 2007. Interestingly, due to the growth of the single female population in recent years, there are almost as many single women owning their home today as there were at the ownership peak in 2007, when there were 14.3 million single female homeowners. Among those who own today, 85% own a home, 7% own a condo or co-op and 8% own some other type of dwelling.

Hit the books

Many single women are in school, including lots of those who work. In fact, as the economy took a turn for the worse, single women increasingly hit the books. Nearly a quarter of single women today (24%) are full- or part-time students, up from 20% who reported being students in 2006. One-in-10 women who work full-time jobs are also enrolled in school, as are 41% of women who work part-time. In the next year, 19% of single women say they planning on enrolling or returning to school. Meantime, 13% of single women reported having graduated from school—which could include high school, college and other educational institutions—during the past year.

Put a ring on it:

Not all single women plan on staying that way. Today, 5.7% of single women (1.6 million women) admit to using online dating sites during a typical month. Whether wishful thinking or grounded in fact, 9% of single women told Experian Simmons that they plan on getting married within a year’s time. Single men (or certain single ladies) looking to improve their odds in the dating department should consider a visit to one of the 10 Designated Market Areas (DMA) listed below, which Experian Simmons has identified as having the highest ratio of never married women to never married men. The Charlottesville, Virginia market tops the list with 1.16 single women for ever single man.