For many Millennials nowadays, graduating from childhood into adulthood seems to be an especially uncertain passage. The confluence of student loan debt, underemployment, and delayed marriage has resulted in a unique generational moment when more American young adults currently live with their parents than in any other living arrangement, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
A new Census report, “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975–2016,” revealed that more than one third of Millennials—34%, or approximately 24 million young adults ages 18 to 34—still live with their parents. By comparison, 26% of young adults lived with their parents in 2005—a 12% increase in a little over a decade.
Despite signs of economic recovery, mobility for young adults has fallen to the lowest level in more than 50 years, according to the Census report. And although Millennials might have reputations as #YOLO-inspired job hoppers, college-educated Millennials have longer tenures with their employers than Gen-X workers did when they were the same age as today’s Millennials, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
While some Millennials are less than thrilled about their living situations, others don’t mind calling their parents roommates.
It turns out that money (or lack thereof) isn’t the only motivator for young adults moving back home. Previous generations of young people might have viewed moving out and forming families of their own as turning points toward adulthood, but Millennials have eschewed these tradition markers. The Census report found that education and full-time employment ranked as top accomplishments for young adults, who rated these as “extremely important.” Meanwhile, young adults rated parenthood and marriage as “not very important.”
Boomer and Gen-X parents who are anxious for their Millennial children to tie the knot and produce grandkids need not fret: While a majority of Millennials have chosen to delay marriage, most will marry eventually. Back in the 1970s, 80% of Americans were married by the time they turned 30. Today, the Census projects that eight in 10 Millennials will be married by the time they are 45.
While finances have played a heavy hand in turning erstwhile empty nests into full houses once again, researchers said significant attitudinal shifts in society about traditional milestones have occurred over the past 40 years, leading to a newly identified life stage known as “emerging adulthood.” Indeed, although the number of young adults who live at home includes students and those who work but shack up with mom and dad as cost-saving measures, a quarter of Millennials who live at home neither work nor go to school. In other words, adulting may be hard, but at least cable TV and WiFi are still free at home.