The Millennial Generation Is Not As Quick To Leave Home

New Study Highlights an Unusual Trend

The Millennial Generation Is Not As Quick To Leave Home
September 25, 2015

Millennials, just like past generations that were hit by economic hardship, have struggled to start their careers and find jobs that pay them a living wage. However, with employment rates increasing and median weekly earnings on the rise, 18-34 year olds are bucking one trend that their parents set: moving out.

That is the inference from a recent study by the Pew Research Center that analyzed data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey from 2007 through the first four months of 2015. The title says it all: "More Millennials Living with Family despite Improved Job Market." Philip Bump of the Washington Post acquired similar data back to 1968, and concluded that the reaction of millennials to economic recovery is different from that of the Baby Boomers and Generation X.

In 2007, before the Great Recession hit in earnest, there were 59.8 million young adults between the ages of 18-34 (excluding full-time college students) in the U.S., and 71% of them were living independently. That number has been on a steady decline to approximately 67% of the 62.6 million millennials in the U.S. in 2015.

In essence, the numbers of households headed by millennials has stayed nearly constant since 2007 (dropping slightly from 25.2 million to 25 million). The trend has held even though unemployment declined from a peak of 12.4% in 2010 to 7.7% in 2015, and is approaching the pre-recession number of 6.2% in 2007.

Education levels do not seem to play a factor in the living arrangement trend. Both the college-educated and those with no more than high school diplomas experienced a 2% drop in the number of millennials living independently from their parents. While student debt has been cited as a factor by other studies, the constant rate across education levels suggests that student debt is not a dominant factor.

In essence, the recovery has been stronger among the college-educated, but they have not used their gains to seek independence.

How about wages as a factor? Median weekly earnings are up slightly in inflation-adjusted numbers, at $574 through April 2015 compared to a low mark of $547 in 2012, but they are still below the $592 level reached in 2008. It is reasonable to assume that even though we are in an economic recovery on the broad scale, too many individuals are not earning enough to feel confident in moving out and starting a new household.

The study does not come to any conclusions as to why there is a disconnect between the economic recovery and the independent living situation of millennials; it just notes that the disconnect exists. Perhaps the reasons are a combination of convenience, planning, and psychology.

Some millennials are probably gun-shy after seeing the effects of the recession on homeowners, and those who aspire to be homeowners may be taking the opportunity to live with their parents and save money for an eventual purchase. The extra costs of an apartment may not be worth the delay. Others may just be comfortable with the arrangement and see no reason to change if their parents do not mind. If it isn’t broken, why fix it?

If this trend continues, expect multiple studies trying to find out the reason why. Without more millennials establishing new households and spending accordingly, it will be hard for the economic recovery to surpass its current anemic rate.


Photo ©iStock.com/AlbanyPictures

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Rindy | 09.25.15 @ 13:58
This surprises me a little because I grew up in a different time when we could not wait to be independent of our parents. I understand how the majority of the millennial generation would be hesitant on moving out because of the hard recession we had.
Nancy | 09.25.15 @ 14:04
I think they are on to something with the thought of the millennials being gun shy. A lot of people went through some rough times that had to :have effected their perceptions of what can happen.
Steffanie | 09.25.15 @ 14:07
Being a parent of that generation, I can say it is true. My older kids have stayed home longer than I did.
Beverly | 09.25.15 @ 14:14
Seeing as my 22yr old son still lives at home I can relate to this article. Maybe there is financial hope for this generation.
Leslie | 09.25.15 @ 14:14
I live in a small town with no job prospects. To even get a minimum wage job, you have to drive 30+ miles to the next county where the jobs are more plentiful. There's more potential employees than job openings, so the whole I can't get a job because I have no experience, but how can I get experience if I can't get a job conundrum is truer than ever
Elaine | 09.25.15 @ 14:15
I think this might actually be right on the spot. I know so many that leave for college and come right back home. They like the idea of being off on their own but when it comes down to it, they just can't seem to do it.
Erin | 09.25.15 @ 14:16
This doesn't surprise me at all. They still have plenty of time to settle down so as long as the parents are willing to have them, I see no problem with it.
Daniel Dohlstrom | 09.25.15 @ 14:21
It seems to me this trend could benefit both sides, the child and parents. As times are tough multiple incomes in a household are almost needed.
Sarah | 09.25.15 @ 14:23
Well, I think it's great. I honestly hope my minions follow that trend. There's no need to add the stress of a household at such a young age. So long as it's mutually agreed, it's all good.
Angie | 09.25.15 @ 14:24
It would be interesting to see what the financial status of this group are as well - are they saving more than the kids who moved away from home earlier? Or are they spending what they're making? Are they contributing to their household?
Shannon | 09.25.15 @ 14:39
I can relate my older kids are still home! Not like I was, I couldn't wait to get out!
Alec | 09.25.15 @ 14:40
As someone who falls into this age group, I can say this is true. I was able to move away but the majority of my friends still live at home with their parents as their jobs don't pay enough for them to afford rent plus bills. Part of it is poor spending habits and the other part is that they haven't been seeking higher education to get better jobs.
Britt | 09.25.15 @ 14:42
It doesn't surprise me, it's a lot cheaper to stay at home while in school and such. I am a Millennial and that is what I am doing.
Crystal | 09.25.15 @ 14:42
Doesn't surprise me at all. I'm a parent of two who have flown the coop, but the next... I seen him staying close to home.
Stokes | 09.25.15 @ 14:47
I'm not really surprised by this. I'm 30 and a lot of my friends lived at home for their first couple years of college and then moved back while they struggled to find a job.
Carla Truett | 09.25.15 @ 14:47
I'm a parent of the millennial generation, Our son moved out at 24, but only because he got married. I moved out of my parents home soon after I turned 18. I embraced the responsibility when our son avoided it with everything in him until he met his wife.
Christina | 09.25.15 @ 15:02
I think this is a good thing. When I was at this age it was (got to get married and start a family) I'm glad they are getting on their feet more before taking that big step.
Heather | 09.25.15 @ 15:05
I see this more and more where the yonger generation is staying home. But unfortunately not saving money.
George Middleton | 09.25.15 @ 15:06
I wish I waited longer before I left the nest. It's a lot harder on them than it when I had to do it.
Bobbie | 09.25.15 @ 15:07
Waiting to see how mine deal with the first move out. I have no problems with them staying home during college to save on money and not go into debt.
Kamie | 09.25.15 @ 15:07
It is interesting, and can be beneficial for everyone as long as all parties are contributing to the household.
Wanda Langley | 09.25.15 @ 15:23
It is a lot different than when I was young. I myself think if this is okay with the parent's it is a good idea for this generation until they are through college and have started their career. So many of them have school loans to pay off that it is harder for them to afford to strike out on their own. It is also a lot bigger world for them to adjust to.
Christina | 09.25.15 @ 15:24
I wish my two kids had stayed at home a bit longer, but they were both eager to get out into the world and start doing things on their own -- and they're doing it well!
Irene | 09.25.15 @ 15:29
Tell me about it. My adult son still has not left the nest.
Meredith L | 09.25.15 @ 15:36
Coming from an extended household, I am not surprised by this at all. It seems traditional to me: stay with mom and dad until you save up enough for a house and maybe get married. And that extended household? That included grandparents living with us, my parents with us 4 kids, and a younger aunt and uncle. That "tradition" continues.
Ron | 09.25.15 @ 15:36
Facing more debt and unsurety in employment, staying with family isn't a bad idea. It is a frugal one.
Tina | 09.25.15 @ 15:41
This is definitely the trend I've seen. The ones who leave for college come right back home after graduation.
Kelley | 09.25.15 @ 15:51
Well, yeah. This isn't surprising. College is more expensive, jobs for new graduates aren't paying as much... It's harder for people to live on their own.
Katie | 09.25.15 @ 15:54
I think the reason kids aren't leaving home as early as in the past is because of the amount of college tuition required to get a degree for a job, and the economy isn't what it used to be. I am actually anticipating my kids to be here til their mid twenties, and will allow them to do so, if it means they can stand on their own two feet when they to leave..
Jo Ann | 09.26.15 @ 00:10
This generation is afraid to live with less than what their parents have. They don't want to do without like we did as young adults. They seem to want to start out right out of the gate with what we worked years for.
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