The number of unmarried couples living together shot up by 13 percent between 2009 and 2010, and some of the decisions may not have been completely motivated by romance.
Maybe more folks needed someone to help pay the rent.
Rose Kreider, a researcher with the U.S. Census, crunched the numbers and found that the sharp increase in opposite-sex couples living together coincided with a big jump in unemployment among the unmarried couples.
Nearly 7.5 million couples were cohabitating in 2010, up from about 6.7 million in 2009.
The number of unmarried people living together has generally risen since the Census started tracking the data in 1996, but the gains have rarely been so great. In fact, there was a statistically insignificant 2 percent drop in cohabitating couples from 2008 to 2009. That followed a 5 percent gain from 2007 to 2008.
The recession of 2007-09 has taken its toll on unmarried couples. In 2008, 59 percent of cohabitating couples said both partners were employed, but that percentage fell to 52 percent in 2009 and 49 percent in 2010.
In addition, people who moved in together this year were more likely to include at least one jobless partner than couples who already were living together. Kreiser said just 39 percent of newly cohabitating couples were both employed, compared with 50 percent of couples that were already together.
Although the recession officially started in December 2007, Kreiser speculates that the big spike in couples moving in together began more recently because, as unemployment has dragged on, more people have exhausted savings, unemployment benefits and other ways to pay rent on their own.
"The fact that a higher proportion of the new couples are younger may also make it more difficult for them to find jobs in a tough economy where older workers with more skills are also looking for jobs," Kreider wrote in a white paper released this week.
The Census data also show an increase in same-sex cohabitating couples this year, but Kreiser says that was expected because of a change in how same-sex couples are counted.