The compression of generations – 25 million adults live at home with parents because they’re unemployed or underemployed. The crushing cost of a college education today.

The thought of moving out on your own and making your individual way in the world is very much an American trait.  Certainly movies and television shows almost always assume every American has moved out on their own once adulthood is reached.  What this recession has taught us is never take anything for what is shown on the surface.  Many young adults, many times to the chagrin of baby boomer parents, have moved back home because of the employment market conditions brought on by the recession.  Roughly 25 million adults live at home with their parents for a variety of reasons but mostly economic.  For many the debilitating cost of student debt is hindering their progression into the independent marketplace.  For others it is the lack of solid wages that actually provide enough to support a person living on their own.  And for many others the inability to find a job is still a very common experience.

Where have the young adults gone?

Without a doubt many young adults, those between the ages of 25 to 34 have moved back home (or never left home) because of the recession:

census age living at home

Source:  Census

Part of the trend is unmistakable in that much of the growth has come from men.  This is likely due to industries like construction taking a brutal hit once the housing market went bust.  However the trend has also occurred with females if we go back to the early 2000s.  There are a variety of reasons for this compression of generations.  This is common in other parts of the world but certainly is a new phenomenon here in the US.  In Italy it is common for men to live at home well into (and beyond) young adulthood but how well will this go in the US?

It doesn’t seem like much of this is by voluntary choice:

“(TIME) Nearly 25 million adults live at home with their parents because they’re unemployed or underemployed, they’re trying to pay off student loans or save money to buy a place, or for any number of other reasons. While calling mom and dad your “roommates” may be a smart financial move, it’s the kiss of death for a healthy dating life. Trulia’s survey found that only 5% of unmarried adults would be open to dating someone who lived with their parents.”

This might also explain a massive slowdown in the first time homebuyer market since many purchase their first home between the ages of 25 to 34.  It is tricky to purchase a home when people are working low-wage jobs or simply not working at all.  The massive amount of student debt also hangs above many from moving into another major debt purchase.  As the above data highlights living with your parents might be good for your pocketbook but it might be difficult to woo a potential partner when living at home for many reasons.  Yet this also delays the need for a home since there is little need for larger spaces when you are single.  Without a doubt the trend of young adults living at home has increased:


The markets might be crying out at a recovery but for young adults, the recession is still in season.  A large part of this problem stems from the wicked maze that has become our higher education system.  Make a mistake today and you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt for life with a paper mill degree.  Even two decades ago this was not possible.  Today with the financialization of college for-profits saddle students with enormous levels of debt but with a degree that yields very little in the marketplace.

 The crushing blow of college debt

In 1997-98 for-profits enrolled 3 percent of all undergraduates.  Today they are up to 9 percent.  What is more troubling is the disproportionate amount of federal aid these institutions draw:


Source:  Chronicle of Higher Education

For-profits, although 9 percent of all undergraduate enrollments eat up 22 percent of all  unsubsidized Stafford Loans and 21 percent of all Pell Grants.  With for-profits now enrolling close to 2,000,000 students you have a large number of young adults with degrees that will not likely yield a solid return on their investment (if any at all aside from a large debt load).

If students from competitive schools are having a hard time finding suitable employment what of those that went to these schools?  It seems like many are catching on but not before nationally student loan debt races to the $1 trillion mark.

The trend for automation

Self-checkout stands, self-serve kiosks, and other items of automation are part of our modern day economy.  But you can rest assured that they are not creating much in the way of jobs:

 “(TIME) It’ll be interesting to see what Coinstar and other businesses try to sell via vending machines during the test stage. Sneakers? Jewelry? A home mortgage? An entire dinner in a pill, like something out of “The Jetsons”? Who knows.

Here’s one thing we can be pretty sure of, though: The spread of vending machines is unlikely to do much in the way of creating jobs.”

This is a trend that seems unstoppable.  For those with few skills the manual labor positions are being automated out.  Think of Redbox for example.  This is a boom sector for Coinstar but each one of the 28,000 kiosks does very little in adding a job.  Today there are 28,000 Redbox locations with revenues of $774 million.  Not bad but will these add many jobs?  That seems to be the conundrum of our modern economy.

The current economy and the recent recession have been particularly rough on young adults.  Many are moving back home with parents and this trend seems to be holding strong.  With the cost of college soaring and stagnant wages, the money will have to come from somewhere.

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8 Comments on this post


  1. clarence swinney said:


    February 23rd, 2012 at 8:43 am
  2. Sherry said:

    Many people need to move away from the notion a single income. More people need to be more creative and create side jobs for themselves in addition to their regular work or start their own businesses. No not all people are cut out to run their own business, but there are many people with skills and talents that they can turn into money if they put forth the effort. Many are too afraid. There are many people of all ages who trusted that as long as they worked for an employer and did a good job that they would have a job. Now they are asking where have all the jobs gone. While living at home may be the kiss of death for a dating life, it can be a temporary rather than permanent thing if the individual proactively seeks to create streams of income rather than go with hat in hand hoping to land a single good paying job.

    February 23rd, 2012 at 9:18 am
  3. therooster said:

    This is what happens when a society uses debt as a form of money. Nothing new. Support bullion’s use as money as set out in the Constitution…. please !

    February 25th, 2012 at 2:34 pm
  4. Hillary said:

    It is sad but true, I know many friends with degrees that are forced to live at home because they can’t find work. It isn’t getting better either.

    March 8th, 2012 at 11:13 am
  5. Arizona said:

    Sure ,sure they can’t find a job because their afraid to go outside,teaching your children to be afraid of their own shadow,has been a mistake,AMERICAS kids are still afraid if they go outside, the BOOGY MAN will get them,and they stay in the house WHERE ITS SAFE,screw finding a job,they’ve spent their whole life in the house playing video games and were safe ,AND NOW YOU EXPECT THEM TO GO OUT SEARCHING FOR A JOB,hahahaha,boy the IQ of parents has dropped to a new low,you destroyed your children,and NOW ITS BLAMED on they can’t find a job……..hahahah,yea sure they can’t….hahaha…QUIT giving them money and watch how fast they can figure out a way to make money…….if they weren’t taught to be drug attics,by their blood thristy parents………..

    July 1st, 2014 at 11:09 am
  6. said:

    I have known of many men with degrees living with mom and dad it destroys your self work and also makes it where people are disconnected and unable to date or enjoy life it robs a person of the very essence of life which in my opinion is happiness.

    Low wages are another factor along with millions of felons that are not interested in working on the sames wages we paid them as children back in 1996 wages have not really gone up but have been very stagnated. What does a grown man tell a women and her kids when he can not produce enough or does not have the right to even rent in a ghetto due to Hud laws.

    July 21st, 2014 at 12:50 pm
  7. Gabe said:

    Hey ARIZONA…..I see your comments all over the place and the reality is this……you are the most hostile, hateful phuvker posting on the internet. Yet, you sell yourself as a CHRISTIAN!
    Go get screwed you angry and vile hater. You can burn in hell with your uneneding hate.

    September 23rd, 2015 at 11:02 pm
  8. Richard said:

    What the hell’s wrong with you, GABE? What ‘hate’ are you talking about? What’s your beef with Arizona’s comment (which seems perfectly reasonable to me)? Up the ante, man. Let’s hear it.

    August 6th, 2017 at 1:17 am


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