Just a few short decades ago America’s youth was highly encouraged by eager parents to become self-sufficient by the ripe old age of 18. Today, the mere suggestion of such a thing could land unsuspecting parents in prison for ‘triggering’ their offspring with malicious ‘hate speech.’
And, as a new study from the Census Bureau points out today, the changing dynamics are readily apparent in the latest household survey data which shows that more millennials are living at home with mom today than any other living arrangement. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- More young people today live in their parents’ home than in any other arrangement: 1 in 3 young people, or about 24 million 18- to 34-year-olds, lived in their parents’ home in 2015.
- In 2005, the majority of young adults lived independently in their own household, which was the predominant living arrangement in 35 states. A decade later, by 2015, the number of states where the majority of young people lived independently fell to just six.
- Most of today’s Americans believe that educational and economic accomplishments are extremely important milestones of adulthood. In contrast, marriage and parenthood rank low: over half of Americans believe that marrying and having children are not very important in order to become an adult.
- Young people are delaying marriage, but most still eventually tie the knot. In the 1970s, 8 in 10 people married by the time they turned 30. Today, not until the age of 45 have 8 in 10 people married.
- More young men are falling to the bottom of the income ladder. In 1975, only 25 percent of men, aged 25 to 34, had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41 percent of young men. (Incomes for both years are in 2015 dollars.)
- Between 1975 and 2016, the share of young women who were homemakers fell from 43 percent to 14 percent of all women aged 25 to 34.
- Of young people living in their parents’ home, 1 in 4 are idle, that is they neither go to school nor work. This figure represents about 2.2 million 25- to 34-year-olds.
To our complete ‘shock’, parents living in liberal states like NJ, CT, NY and CA were most likely to provide ‘safe spaces’ for their unemployed millennials to play video games. In fact, 7 out of the top 10 states where the most millennials live at home were liberal…and 11 out of the top 15.
And while the number of millennials living at home with mom continues to surge, 1 out of 4 of them are neither enrolled in school or working.
It is easy to think of young people living in their parents’ home as a homogeneous group, as though they were all unemployed and dependent on their parents’ support. At 24.2 million people, the population of 18- to 34-year-olds living at home is a large and diverse group. Most of them-about 81 percent—are either working or going to school. This should not be surprising because most people aged 18 to 24 are living in their parents’ home, attending classes or working part-time. On the other hand, we might be surprised if their older peers do not contribute to the family budget because they have had more time to finish school and find a stable job. Yet, of the 8.4 million 25- to 34-year-olds living at home, about 1 in 4 are idle, meaning they are not in school and do not work.
Who are these young adults who are not in the labor force or going to school? They tend to be older millennials who are White or Black and have only a high school education, compared with their peers who are working or going to school while living at home. But they may not be idle for want of effort. They are more likely to have a child, so they may be caring for family, and over one-quarter have a disability of some kind (Table 6). That so many are disabled suggests that they have limitations in their ability to attend classes, study, find work, or keep a regular job. Recent stories on boomerang children returning home focus on economic downturns, unforgiving job markets, and high rents.30 Though often overlooked in these stories, young people’s health may play an important role in their decision to live with parents.
A bright future awaits, America.