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Empty Nest No More

For the first time since the Great Depression, a majority of America’s young adults have returned home to live with their parents.

According to a Pew Research analysis of Census data, 52% of 18- to 29-year-olds in July 2020 resided with at least one parent, compared to 47% in February. This equals an increase of 2.6 million moving home with mom and dad again in five months.

By the end of the Great Depression, 48% of young adults reported living with their parents, according to the 1940 census. The youngest adults from ages 18 to 24 accounted for 2.1 million of the overall 2020 increase. In February, 63% of this demographic reported living with their parents, but the percentage has grown to 71% in July.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, young adults are being pushed back home at increasing rates, regardless of socioeconomic or ethnic backgrounds.

College-age students (18-24) saw the largest growth, following the cancellation of in-person learning at university campuses throughout the country.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 6 out of 10 college seniors graduated in 2019 with debt, a massive financial strain coinciding with one of the worst job markets in recent history.

Due to the negative effects of the pandemic on job growth and the economy, young adults have struggled to find alternate living arrangements, which also explains why so many have returned to the nest.

Growth in new households for the 18- to 29-year-old demographic has also declined as a result of less demand. Between February and July, household heads in this age group declined 12%, or by approximately 1.9 million.

Returning home also adds to costs for families overall, as these extra returning members of a household mean extra groceries, higher utility bills, and insurance costs, which can put a strain on older adults who may be getting closer to retirement.

Given the current difficulties young adults face in the COVID-19 labor market, it remains to be seen the lasting effects of this living at home trend and whether it serves as a sustainable option once the pandemic is over.

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