Marriage hit a milestone in 2022, surpassing 2 million, prepandemic level

Marriages seem to be making a bit of a comeback after slumping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its National Center for Health Statistics in a blog post reported Friday that the U.S. saw a “significant uptick,” reaching a total of 2,065,905 marriages in 2022 — the first time America has hit the 2 million mark since COVID-19 began and 50,000 more than in 2019, right before the virus was declared a pandemic.

2022 is the most recent year for which the data is available.

The marriage rate also climbed to 6.2 per 1,000 population, which was the highest since 2018 at 6.5 per 1,000.

According to The Associated Press, “in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 1.7 million U.S. weddings — the lowest number recorded since 1963. The pandemic threw many marriage plans into disarray, with communities ordering people to stay at home and banning large gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

In all, wrote Brian Tsai for the CDC blog, “36 states and the District of Columbia reported marriage rates in 2022 that either matched or exceeded the levels seen in 2019, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The increases in Delaware, Hawaii, and Vermont, however, were not statistically significant. The marriage rate declined in 12 states.

The highest marriage rates were in:

  • Nevada (25.9 per 1,000).

  • Hawaii (14.4 per 1,000).

  • (tie) Montana (9.9 per 1,000).

  • (tie) Utah (9.9 per 1,000).

  • Washington, D.C. (8.3 per 1,000).

Clearly, those state rates reflect where the marriages occurred, not necessarily where the couples lived.

Declining faith in marriage?

As AP reported, marriage is much less common than it used to be: “According to data that goes back to 1900, weddings hit their height in 1946, when the marriage rate was 16.4 per 1,000 people. The rate was above 10 in the early 1980s before beginning a decades-long decline.”

The American Family Survey has also noted that the belief that marriage is essential has been declining for years. The most recent survey, in 2023, according to a Deseret News article, found marriage views “in three camps: A Republican, churchgoing group that’s largely enthusiastic about marriage; a Democratic group that is becoming more skeptical and is not particularly churchgoing, and ‘an odd collection of change in the middle.’”

That survey is a nationally representative look at family life in America through the eyes of U.S. adults. They are asked how they live and their opinions around diverse aspects of family life, including policy, family activities, work-life balance and raising children, among others. The survey is conducted by YouGov for the Deseret News and the Wheatley Institute and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, both at Brigham Young University.

Many experts lament the decline in faith that marriage is important, noting a success sequence — graduate high school, get a job, marry and have children — and say that children benefit from having both their parents actively engaged in their lives, which is more likely to occur when the couple is married.

The CDC this week also noted that the number of divorces dropped a bit to 2.4 per 1,000 population, or 673,989 total in the U.S. between 2000 and 2022. But divorce data from California, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota and New Mexico was not included.