U.S. 2010 Report: Young Adults and the Great Recession
The Foundation's U.S. 2010 project has published its latest report: "During the Great Recession, More Young Adults Lived with Parents," by Zhenchao Qian of Ohio State University. Here are the report's key findings:
• Among young adults in the 20-34 age range, 17 percent lived with parents in 1980, rising to 24 percent in the 2007-2009 years of the Great Recession. The rise was greatest for those under 25, jumping from 32 percent in 1980 to 43 percent in the latest period. Levels of co-residence are also much higher for men than for women, for minorities than for whites, and for persons with lower education.
• Recent delays in marriage have increased the likelihood of co-residence with parents. Between 1980 and 2009, the U.S. median age at first marriage increased from 24.7 to 28.1 among men and from 22.0 to 25.9 among women (U.S. Census Bureau 2011). In 2007-09, only 38 percent of men and 47 percent of women aged 25-29 were married, a sharp decline from 1980 (59 percent 2 and 65 percent, respectively).
• Emerging adults often experience great uncertainty and instability as they map out alternative life courses. In college, they explore different classes and majors; some drop in and out of school for various reasons. As a result, less than one-third of 25- to 29- year-old Americans have completed a four-year degree (Arnett 2004). Meanwhile, they explore work options – the average American holds seven to eight different jobs between the ages of 18 and 30 (Arnett 2004). Frequent job changes may connote difficulties in finding stable or suitable employment, often exacerbated during periods of economic recession (Goldscheider and Goldscheider 1999), as occurred in the 1990s and at the present time.
• The late 2000s Great Recession was very large in duration, scale, and impact. Virtually every demographic segment of the U.S. population was affected. From May 2007 to October 2009, 7.5 million people lost jobs and the unemployment rate increased from 4.4 percent to 10.1 percent (Grusky, Western, and Wimer 2011). The job loss during the Great Recession was severe by historical standards and the average duration of unemployment was the longest in recent memory.
• The recession hit young adults the hardest because they were often “last hired, first fired.” Job losses during the recession spread beyond historically disadvantaged groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants; they also were experienced among college-educated workers (Hout et al. 2011). Many young adults find it comforting to return home – to double up with their parents when times are tough.
• These effects for individuals cumulate to affect whole metropolitan regions. The metropolitan areas with proportionately more economically disadvantaged, more unmarried, and more racial/ethnic minority young adults have high levels of co-residence with parents. Meanwhile, more young adults in large high-cost metropolitan areas such as New York and Los Angeles live with parents because doubling up saves money. As the recession hit in 2007-2009, 30 percent of young adults aged 25 to 29 in the New York region lived with their parents; in Los Angeles, the figure was 28 percent.
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