Marriage Rate Staying Steady

Associated Press

Americans marched to the altar last June at the highest rate in years, government statistics indicate.

About 306,000 American couples tied the knot in June, according to figures collected by the National Center for Health Statistics.

That's a rate of 15.8 marriages per 1,000 Americans--the highest level for any one month since June, 1978, when the rate was 16.0.

But despite the surge in June--traditionally the most popular month for weddings--the national marriage rate remained relatively level on an annual basis.

The number of marriages in the United States has been increasing in recent years, but only enough to keep pace with the growth of the population, causing the rate to remain relatively steady, according to Barbara Wilson of the statistics center.

The nation's annual marriage rate peaked at 12.2 per 1,000 persons in 1945 with the end of World War II, a time when young men were returning from the service, forming families and launching the subsequent Baby Boom generation.

But the rate dropped to 9.3 a decade later--the first time it had fallen below 10 since the hard economic times of the Depression--and bottomed at 8.5 in 1960.

After that low, the rate began climbing steadily again, reaching 10.6 in 1970, and the annual rate has remained in that general area since then.

The last peak, 16 in June, 1978, came in a month with only four Saturdays, in contrast to the five available for weddings this year.

Wilson noted that while June is the most popular wedding month, August and December are also often chosen.

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