1 in 3 American adults lived alone in 2017, highest share on record

More American adults lived alone in 2017 than in any year since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking census data in 1948, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

The share of households in which only one person lived rose to 9.4 percent in 2017, up from 9.1 percent in 2016 and 9.2 percent in 2015.

Most of the increase was driven by people who lived alone as renters instead of owning a home. Among single-person households, rental occupancy rose to 40.1 percent in 2017, from 39.9 percent in 2016 and 41.6 percent in 2015. About 28 percent of people living alone had a child younger than 18 living in the household.

The last time the share of people living alone was higher was in 1998, just before the housing bubble and financial crisis. In 2013, the Census Bureau reported that only 9.1 percent of adults were living alone; it has since revised that figure upward, and the new survey points to even higher rates than that.

In June, HUD reported that 49.1 percent of renters who made less than $23,050 a year lived alone in urban areas across the United States, a 7 percentage point increase from 1999.

Nearly one-fifth of Americans age 20 and older had a roommate in 2017, down from nearly one-fourth in 2015, the Census Bureau reported.

More Americans were also sharing housing than in recent years. Housing that shared characteristics with other shared living arrangements, such as double or triple bed arrangements, tripled to 3.3 percent from 1.7 percent in 2016.

Those figures show that many renter households in which nobody lived came from demographic groups outside the traditionally homogeneous Hispanic and black populations.

The Census Bureau report comes as government and business leaders prepare to respond to America’s growing racial and economic inequalities. During his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Donald Trump highlighted this gap, saying that “when someone is born into poverty, it is not their fault.”

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