When engineer Tom Holben lost his job in 2009 at a Colorado copper mine due a fall in the commodity’s price, he joined the ranks of millions of Americans who had to leave their families to work elsewhere.
Holben landed some 1,600 miles away in New York City, while his family stayed in Denver. As Tom and wife Donna saw it, their choice was between living separately or together, possibly, on one income in New York or Denver. With two sons in college, the decision was obvious.
“The company Tom works for did not offer to help sell our house" in suburban Denver, says Donna Holben, who manages an apartment building the couple owns in Colorado. “With the depressed housing market, we did not even attempt to sell it.”
Like the Holbens, American couples have increasingly been faced with parting temporarily to either make ends meet or find jobs in line with their skills.
About 5.6 million couples live separately, according to the March 2009 American Community Survey, administered through the U.S. Census Bureau, up from 4.8 million in 2005.