The recession may be over, but a record number of millennials are riding out a still-weak economy under their parents’ roofs.
In 2012, 21.6 million young adults aged 18-31 lived at home with their parents, up from 18.5 million just before the recession, according to a new Pew Research centre analysis.
“This is the highest share in at least four decades and represents a slow but steady increase over the 32% of their same-aged counterparts who were living at home prior to the Great Recession in 2007 and the 34% doing so when it officially ended in 2009,” the report says.
So, what’s their deal? Are these a bunch of ‘failure to launch’ drop-outs or college graduates shut out of a still-weak job market?
As many as half of home-dwelling millennials are college students, Pew found, most of whom (56%) haven’t hit their 25th birthday yet. Just 16% of adults aged 25-31 live at home. Men are more likely than women to return home (40% vs. 32%).
A sparse job market doesn’t tell the whole story, however. On top of weak job opportunities, many more young adults are choosing to enroll in college these days and they are also delaying marriage longer than ever.
In March 2012, 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, up from 35% in March 2007. And just 25% were married, down from 31% before the recession.
But there’s another factor that could be driving young people home that Pew doesn’t take into account – student debt loads. With the average college graduate heading out into the real world with $27,000 worth of loans to pay off, who can blame them for cooling their heels with mum and Dad while they come up with a game plan?
On the whole, moving back home may be a dire sign for our job market, but better to be at home saving money than funding the lifestyle people think 20-somethings “should” have on plastic instead.