WASHINGTON — The recession is profoundly disrupting American life: More people are delaying marriage and home-buying, turning to carpools yet getting stuck in ever-worse traffic, staying put rather than moving to new cities.
A broad array of U.S. census data, for release on Tuesday, also shows a dip in the foreign-born population last year, to under 38 million after it reached an all-time high in 2007. This was due to declines in low-skilled workers from Mexico searching for jobs in Arizona, Florida and California.
Health coverage swung widely by region, based partly on levels of unemployment. Massachusetts, with its universal coverage law, had fewer than one in 20 uninsured residents — the lowest in the nation. Texas had the highest share, at one in four, largely because of illegal Hispanic immigrants excluded from government-sponsored and employer-provided plans.
More than one in five — 21.6 percent — of Manatee’s estimated 313,160 residents lacked health insurance coverage last year.
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The number of foreign-born and minority residents often tracked closely with how a state ranked in the levels of uninsured.
A dip in foreign-born residents comes as the government considers immigration changes, including stepped-up border enforcement and a path toward U.S. citizenship. At nearly 38 million, immigrants made up 12.5 percent of the population in 2008; an estimated 11.9 million are here illegally.
In three large metro areas — Miami, San Jose, Calif., and Los Angeles — more than one-third of all residents are foreign-born.
Roughly half the states showed declines in the number of immigrants from 2007 to 2008.
Manatee’s immigrant community shrunk by 3,500 people from 2007 to 2008, reducing their share of the county’s total population by a full percentage point to 10.8 percent. The county had an estimated 34,145 foreign-born residents last year.
About one in five U.S. residents spoke a language other than English at home, mostly clustered in California, New Mexico and Texas. In Manatee, it was nearly one in seven.
Demographers said the latest figures were striking confirmation of the social impact of the economic decline as it hit home in 2008. Findings come from the annual American Community Survey, a sweeping look at life built on information from 3 million households.
The percentage of people who drove alone to work dropped last year to 75.5 percent, the lowest in a decade, as commuters grew weary of paying close to $4 a gallon for gasoline and opted to carpool or take public transportation.
Average commute times edged up to 25.5 minutes, erasing years of decreases to stand at the level of 2000, as people had to leave home earlier in the morning to pick up friends for their ride to work or to catch a bus or subway train.
Palmdale, Calif., a suburb in the high desert north of Los Angeles, posted the longest commute at 41.5 minutes. Shortest commute time: Bloomington, Ill., at 14.1 minutes.
Manatee County was in the middle, at 23 minutes — a 48-second improvement over 2007. Four in five Manatee commuters drove alone to work, virtually unchanged from the previous year, while less than one in 100 used mass transit.
Nationwide, more than one in eight workers, or 17.5 million, were out the door by 6 a.m. Only one in 13 Manatee workers left home that early.
Marital bliss also suffered. Nearly one in three Americans 15 and over, or 31.2 percent, reported they had never been married, the highest level in a decade. The share had previously hovered for years around 27 percent, before beginning to climb during the housing downturn in 2006.
The Census estimated that more than 23 percent of Manatee residents 15 and older had never been married.
— Duane Marsteller, Herald staff writer, contributed to this report.