|Forbes Magazine just released
its annual list of the "Best Cities for Singles." The San
Francisco - Oakland bay area topped the list, followed by New
York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, and Seattle.
To determine the best cities for
singles, Forbes ranked 40 of the largest continental U.S. urban
areas in seven categories: nightlife, culture, job growth,
number of singles, cost of living alone, coolness and online
To determine "coolness," editors
commissioned a national survey of adults, asking them, "Among
the following U.S. cities, which one do you think is the
The magazine's Cost of Living
Alone index is determined by the average cost of a city's
apartment rent, a pizza, a movie ticket and a six-pack of
Heineken. Additionally, they factored in entry-level salary
The cultural index is determined
by the number of museums, professional sports teams, and live
theater and concert venues per capita, as well as the university
Job growth rankings are
determined by the projected percentage of job growth over the
next five years.
Online dating rankings are
determined by the number of active profiles in each city listed
on the dating site Yahoo! Personals.
Nightlife is based on the number
of restaurants, bars and nightclubs per capita.
The number of singles is based on
the percentage of a metro's population above the age of 15 that
has never been married. This item carries twice the weight of
any other category.
A closer look at these categories
shows that Forbes is really trying to determine which cities are
the best places for never-married and unattached men and women
in their twenties. The criteria have little relevance to
other large segments of the 90 million Americans who are not
Job growth, for example, may be
important to young singles starting a career, but it would not
rank high on the list of attributes important to widows or
The number of people available
for online dating in a city would not seem very relevant to the
ten million adults living with an unmarried partner.
Nightlife probably would rank
very low as a priority to the 10 million single mothers and two
million single fathers who are struggling to raise children on
The cost of living alone might
catch the eye of many of the 30 million single people who live
solo, but would not be as relevant to the 60 million unmarried
Americans who are sharing a household with a partner, roommate,
The title of the report should
also be altered to say "Best Large Cities" for singles.
There are more than 300 cities in the United States where
unmarried adults head up a majority of households, many of which
may have a lot to offer single people.
Despite the fact that the title
of the Forbes report is misleading, the magazine's annual
contest has helped to raise the public profile of single people
as an important segment of American society.
Another positive aspect of this
year's report is that the editors featured a link to an
important commentary just below the "Best Cities" report.
"Stop Singlism" by Leslie Talbot, contends that "discrimination
against the unwed may be the last socially acceptable prejudice
Talbot explains that "from the
workplace to the voting booth to your own backyard, the message
to singles is clear, consistent, and omnipresent: Married: good!
She points out how many "family
friendly" companies pressure unmarried employees to travel
more frequently, work more weekends and holidays, stay later
during the week and refrain from taking time off during
school vacation season, regardless of rank or seniority.
"Corporate America isn't any
friendlier to singles on the consumer side of the equation,
opting instead to shower their discounts on the wedded in the
form of preferred insurance rates and 'family' memberships at
gyms and country clubs," Talbot observes.
Don't look to the government for
help, she explains, because "when it comes to singlism, the
government is one of the worst offenders," citing unfairness in
tax codes and the omission of "marital status" from federal
I'm curious. Has Talbot
been studying the website of Unmarried America or reading Column
To read other editions of
Column One, click here.
Unmarried America 2007
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and