NY TIMES -- Feb 12 -- Online dating has had a following ever since dating sites popped up around '94, said Mark Brooks, editor of Online Personals Watch. The industry then started leveling off in Feb '05. "Now at a time when money is scarce or uncertain, they don't want to go through it alone," said Dr. Pepper Schwartz of Perfectmatch.com, which had a 51% increase in new members in the Q4 of '08 compared with '07. Speeddate.com's traffic is up 60%. "During recessions people stay at home more, they don't want to pay and go to bars. They're going online to meet each other," said Markus Frind, the CEO of Plentyoffish, a free site, where visits have increased 77% from Dec '07 to Dec '08, and 32% over the last three months. While "marriage" and "children" were always popular key words, Mr. Frind said, during this period last year Plentyoffish.com users mentioned the word "job" in their profiles 5.5% of the time. This year, that number has risen to 7.7%. On BlackPeopleMeet, the percentage of people listing "job" as a criterion when asked 'What are you looking for in a partner?' increased 18% from Jan '08 to Jan '09. Offline romance specialists say they are also seeing a spike in business. From Oct through Dec'08, new membership at The Right One/Together Dating, a dating service with 60 locations across the country, increased ~18% compared with the same period the previous year. The price of membership starts at $1,000. "People are putting down deposits rather than paying in full, which is fine," said CEO, Paul Falzone.
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