Even though we’ve been hearing about the retirement fund-sapping tendencies of millennial twenty-somethings since the housing market bottomed out like a Camaro doing sixty over a school-zone speed bump, a recently-released study from the Pew Research Center suggests that, even in the post-recession zombie economy, more millennials are living with their parents than ever before, especially if those millennials are between the ages of 18-24, unmarried, and male.
The gender disparity in live-at-home millennials isn’t too glaring — 40 percent of the nation’s couch-dwellers are male, while 32 percent are female. In 2012, according to Richard Fry’s Pew study, 36 percent of all millennials (18-31-year-olds) in the U.S. were living in their parents’ homes, the highest percentage of young adults in four decades, and the latest peak in a slow but steady rise since 2007, right before the Great Recession, of young people hanging around the nest after they’ve supposedly fledged.
Of course, millennials aren’t fledging as quickly as they used to, which probably has something to do with the banking crisis, the outdated roadmap to personal success that has failed basically everyone in middle-class America, and the fact that those sweet, sweet post-war factory jobs started vanishing almost immediately after we beat the Nazis. Striking out alone in one’s early-to-mid-twenties is, after all, a relatively new phenomenon — people just didn’t do it too much until after World War II, in spite of what some of the more vociferous, finger-wagging baby boomers (a generational anomaly if ever there was one) might say.
Fry’s study identifies some particular factors behind the surge in home-lingering millennials. The study is well worth a read, especially if you’re a millennial living at home and feeling like even the nose-pickers you knew in high school are working full-time, health-insurance-granting jobs and saving up to buy pre-owned Volkswagen Passats with only 20,000 miles. Basically, declining employment, rising college enrollment, and declining marriage have all contributed to the return of the remain-at-home young adult. In 2012, for instance, the number of millennials who had jobs declined to 63 percent from 70 percent in 2012, and since it’s easier to move out of your parents’ house when you have a steady income, those additional unemployed millennials were more likely to live with their parents. Just 25 percent of millennials were married in 2012, down five percent from 2007, and the majority of the parent-trapped millennials had at least some college education.
If you want to live on your own and you’re in your twenties, your best bet is to be an educated woman, or to find a nice, pragmatic spouse with whom to share living expenses, or to, like, show some goddamn initiative and be an entrepreneur. For real — all you have to do is entrepreneur it up. Start a yogurt bog (or whatever yogurt grows in). Open up your own specialty bootstraps store. Write out a sarcastic self-betterment list just like Ben Franklin, who, by the way, would be so totally disappointed in you for not making more of yourself like he did.
A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents’ Home [Pew Social Trends]
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