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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Millennial independence? Young people living at home up 30 percent in past decade

By Eric Adler Tribune News Service

If you’re a parent wondering when your children, well into their late 20s, are finally going to fly from the nest, you might want to settle in.

A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the trend of young people living at home – by young, the study means those ages 18 to 34 – is only deepening.

Whereas some 26 percent of young adults still lived at home in 2005, census numbers show that in 2015 that number had risen to just over 34 percent, a more than 30 percent jump in a single decade.

Breaking the numbers down further, the report, “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016,” said that in 2005, a narrow majority of some 51 percent of young people were said to be living “independently” – meaning not with parents or roommates. That was no longer the case a decade later.

By 2015, just 40.7 percent of young adults were living independently as single or married adults or with a romantic partner. Nearly 60 percent lived at home or with a roommate. If younger adults are looking for those states where the majority of their peers are living independently, they’ll find that number has shrunk to six.

Only in the more affordable states of Kansas (51 percent), Iowa (55 percent), Nebraska (54 percent), North Dakota (60 percent), South Dakota (57 percent) and Wyoming (55 percent) do more than half of younger adults live independently as single individuals or in committed romantic relationships.

Washington and Idaho sit close to the cusp, with 48 and 49 percent living independently, respectively, in 2015. In states with higher costs of living such as New Jersey, New York and California, only 33.1 percent of young adults are living independently in each.

The report, which also compared statistics about young adults from the 1970s to today, notes that “today’s young adults look different from prior generations in almost every regard.”

Highlights include:

In the 1970s, 80 percent of people got married by age 30. Today, 80 percent get married by age 45.

In 1975, a quarter of young men ages 25 to 35 were making less than $30,000 in 2015 dollars. By 2016, that number had risen to 41 percent.

From 1975 to 2016, the percentage of young women working as “homemakers” fell from 43 percent to 14 percent.

Of the young adults living in their parents’ home, 25 percent are idle – neither attending school nor working. But they are also more likely to be caring for their own child or a family member or to have some sort of disability.

“Most of today’s Americans believe that educational and economic accomplishments are extremely important milestones of adulthood,” the report hold. “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.”