The number of unmarried couples living together rose 13 percent from the previous year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This year, there are 7.5 million opposite-sex unmarried couples living together – up from 6.7 million in 2009, reported the bureau on Thursday. The year before had witnessed a two percent drop after a five percent rise in co-habiting couples between 2007 and 2008.
Demographers say a poor job market is likely a factor in the rise of co-habiting couples in 2010.
According to 2010 data, unmarried couples who recently began living together usually have one partner unemployed. Only 49 percent of cohabiting couples this year are ones where both partners are employed. This figure is down from 59 percent in 2008 and 52 percent in 2009.
"Pooling resources by moving in together may be one method of coping with extended unemployment of one of the partners," said Rose Kreider, a demographer in the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division at the Census Bureau, according to Agence France-Presse.
Kreider noted the sharp rise in co-habiting this year – three years after the official beginning of the Great Recession, is likely due to people "exhausting" other ways to stay financially afloat – unemployment benefits, saved money, available credit, or assistance from friends and family.
For many churches, the rise in the cohabiting trend is troubling given their belief that couples should live together after marriage.
To combat the trend, some churches have offered free mass weddings to cohabiting couples.
Trinity Fellowship Church, a megachurch in Amarillo, Texas, organized a nearly $3,000 event called "The Big Summer Wedding" last year designed to get couples who are living together to the altar. In total, 32 couples were married by the senior elder at the church.
"Our goal was pretty simple – we wanted to help couples," said Matt Spears, executive pastor of Ministry Development at Trinity, to The Christian Post. "We believe in marriage – one man and one woman – living in covenant with one another."
Spears lamented over how so many people are living together and having kids together while also, for whatever reason, running away from marriage
"Many couples are not getting married for fear of failure; others are not getting married simply because they do not have the means to do so," he said.
According to the Census Bureau's latest data there is a much higher rate of cohabiting couples in the South (38 percent) than in the West (23.2 percent), the Midwest ( 15.8 percent), or in the Northeast (15.8 percent). And newly formed cohabiting couples were younger than already established ones.
Meanwhile, the number of same-sex couples living together this year wasn't statistically different from a 2008 estimate.