The Barie report: Valentine’s Day and ‘never married’

With the Valentine’s Day welcome — or unwelcome — focus on romance and love, here’s some detail on lovelorn — or happily unattached — adults who are single and have never married.

More than 1.3 million adults in the Washington region have never married.

This Valentine’s Day greets 61 million U.S. adults, among them the more than 1.3 million in the Washington region, who are single and have never married, according to Scarborough Research, a provider of syndicated market research information. Never-married adults compose more than one in four adults in both the United States (26 percent) and the Washington region (28 percent).

Those who have never married are increasingly older.

While a majority of never-married adults are under 30, their share of the broader population has declined. In the new data, the share of young adults in the never-married population is now 53 percent of U.S. adults and half (50 percent) in Washington, both down significantly from 2005.

Meanwhile, singles between 40 and 54 who have never married compose about one in five never-married adults both in the United States (19 percent) and in Washington (21 percent), and the share who are 55 and older has been rising, from 8 percent of Washington area never-married singles in 2005 to 12 percent in 2011.

Washington’s singles can be more active and work-oriented than the rest.

Washington region adults in this category are more likely than adults overall to attend professional sports events (41 percent), attend musical concerts (41 percent), jog or run (34 percent) and go to nightclubs (25 percent) and bowling (23 percent). While they are more than twice as likely as adults overall to have used the Internet for dating and personals ads in the past 30 days, only a small fraction (7 percent) did so.

More than one in five never-married adults in the Washington region who are in the workforce have employment incomes of $75,000 or higher (23 percent). While that share is significantly lower than employed adults overall (39 percent), the rewards of job focus may just take time … among those 40 to 54 who have never married, the share with employment incomes of $75,000 or more nearly doubles to 44 percent.

In fact, research from GfK MRI, which, like Scarborough, provides syndicated media and consumer research of U.S. adults, shows that never-married adults in the region are more likely than overall to at least somewhat agree that their “goal is to make it to the top of my profession” (59 percent vs. 47 percent), that “risk taking is exciting to me (56 percent vs. 40 percent) and to also at least partially agree to admitting that “I work most weekends” (43 percent vs. 36 percent).

Concurrently, while 63 percent agree that “I consider myself sophisticated,” compared with 53 percent of the region, and that “I enjoy being the center of attention, area singles are also more likely than overall to agree that “I often feel that my life is slipping out of control (41 percent vs. 33 percent).

This may be one reason Washington’s never-married population appears to act less romantically than those who have tied the knot.

* Only about one in six (16 percent) have been to an upscale restaurant in the past 30 days, compared to 22 percent of local married adults.

* Fewer singles have been to a card or gift store in the past three months (16 percent) than married adults (24 percent).

* Those who have never married are somewhat less likely to have shopped for fine jewelry at a jewelry store in the past year (10 percent) compared with those who are married (15 percent).

David Barie is in The Post’s research and analytics department.

Sources: Scarborough Research 2011, Release 1 US; GfK MRI 2011 Doublebase. Data based on the Washington DMA, which is the television viewing market as defined by Nielsen. Level of agreement with attitude statements is based on the proportion who “agree somewhat” or “agree completely.”

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