WASHINGTON – Singles, take note: With marriages at an all-time low, states in the South and West rank among the highest for couples hearing wedding bells. But many of these states also have higher rates of divorce.

The first-of-its-kind analysis by the Census Bureau, released Thursday, also finds that people are waiting longer before marrying for the first time. In particular, the percentage of women who wed as teenagers has dropped precipitously since 1970, while many men are postponing marriage past their college-age years.

In all, there were 19.1 weddings performed per 1,000 men and 17.6 per 1,000 women across the U.S. in 2009, while divorces became final for 9.2 of every 1,000 men and 9.7 of every 1,000 women.

By region, the South and West had the most marriages, with rates of roughly 19 per 1,000. But they also led in divorces, each at about 10 per 1,000.

Maine, Alaska, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Nevada, ranked at the top for divorces, while Utah, Wyoming and Arkansas — which had the highest marriage rates — were also higher than average in marital breakups. New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York ranked among the lowest in divorces.

North Dakota ranked among the top states in marriages while posting lower than average divorce rates.

The Census Bureau report attributed the lower rates of divorce in the Northeast in part to delayed marriage in those places, which decreased the likelihood of marital discord down the road.

“Surprisingly, the South and West, which we think of as more socially conservative, have higher rates of divorce than does the supposedly liberal East,” said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University.