(AP) – The recession is profoundly disrupting American life: More people are delaying marriage and home-buying, turning to carpools yet getting stuck in ever-worse traffic, staying put rather than moving to new cities.
Health coverage swung widely by region, based partly on levels of unemployment. Massachusetts, with its universal coverage law, had fewer than 1 in 20 uninsured residents – the lowest in the nation. Texas had the highest share, at 1 in four, largely because of illegal immigrants excluded from government-sponsored and employer-provided plans.
Demographers said the latest figures were striking confirmation of the social impact of the economic decline as it hit home in 2008. Findings come from the annual American Community Survey, a sweeping look at life built on information from 3 million households.
Preliminary data earlier this year found that many Americans were not moving, staying put in big cities rather than migrating to the Sunbelt because of frozen lines of credit. Mobility is at a 60-year low, upending population trends ahead of the 2010 census that will be used to apportion House seats.
The percentage of people who drove alone to work dropped last year to 75.5 percent, the lowest in a decade, as commuters grew weary of paying close to $4 a gallon for gasoline and opted to carpool or take public transportation.
Marital bliss also suffered. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans 15 and over, or 31.2 percent, reported they had never been married, the highest level in a decade. The share had previously hovered for years around 27 percent, before beginning to climb during the housing downturn in 2006.
The dip in foreign-born residents comes as the government considers immigration changes, including stepped-up border enforcement and a path toward U.S. citizenship. At nearly 38 million, immigrants made up 12.5 percent of the population in 2008; an estimated 11.9 million are here illegally.
Roughly half the states showed declines in the number of immigrants from 2007 to 2008. Major metro areas also posted decreases, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Detroit and Tampa, Fla. An influx of workers from India, who came looking for specialized jobs in telecommunications, manufacturing, computers and software, partially offset the national immigration decrease.
About 1 in 5 U.S. residents spoke a language other than English at home, mostly clustered in California, New Mexico and Texas.
The number of foreign-born and minority residents often tracked closely with how a state ranked in the levels of uninsured.