According to new census data, marriage rates in 2009 were the lowest they've been in a century. Why? It's the economy, stupid. Well, that, and the Wedding Channel.

Says the AP,

A broad array of new Census Bureau data released Tuesday documents the far-reaching impact of a business slump that experts say technically ended in June 2009: a surging demand for food stamps, considerably fewer homeowners and people doubling up in housing to save money...The new figures show, among other things, that marriages fell to a record low level in 2009, with just 52 percent of adults 18 and over saying they were joined in wedlock, compared to 57 percent in 2000. Many young people, at the same time, struggled to find work and achieve economic independence.

Given that adults ages 18- 34 — aka, the prime marriage demographic — experienced the greatest jumps in poverty last year, this isn't shocking. After all, during the Depression and other earlier periods of economic strife, marriage would have been more commonplace to begin with, so levels would have been less affected by youths' economic difficulties. The fact that for the first time young unmarried adults outnumber married people 25-34 would seem to confirm this.

One wonders too if the increased pressure to have a "wedding" and the runaway growth of the bridal industry — to say nothing of the Wedding Channel — has prevented some couples from getting married. After all, for many people, nowadays, the two are one and the same. There is also no information given on what percentage are partnered and unmarried, and which define themselves as "single" — generational distinctions which make the new stats especially interesting. Our other question? What was going on in 1909?

Marriages At Record Low In '09; Recession Blamed [AP/CBS]