We can add an item to the list of similarities between the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Depression — the percentage of young people living at home.
A Pew Research Center analysis of monthly census data found that in July, 52% of young adults (those 18 to 29) lived with one or both of their parents. That’s up from 47% in February.
It is the highest percentage since the end of the Great Depression, when the 1940 census showed 48% of young adults lived with their parents. Pew notes the peak may have been higher during the worst of the Depression in the 1930s, but no data exists for that period.
The 1950 and 1960 censuses showed a decline in the share of young adults living with parents. However, the monthly share in the Current Population Survey has been above 50% since April; it had not happened in 34 years that CPS data has been available on young adults’ living arrangements.
In February, 24 million young adults were living with their parents. By July, the total had climbed by 2.6 million — 2.1 million of whom were in the 18-to-24 age group. “Most in this youngest age group already lived with their parents, but the share grew to 71% in July from 63% in February,” Pew researchers found.
This pattern, they said, aligns closely with job losses since February. “The youngest adults have been more likely than other age groups to lose their jobs or take a pay cut,” researchers said.
Researchers also found that the number of white young adults living with at least one parent increased more than for other racial and ethnic groups. That is a change from decades past, when whites were less likely than Asians, Blacks or Hispanics to live with their parents.
Researchers said this change in living arrangements “may have an impact not just on young adults and their families, but on the U.S. economy overall, reflecting the importance of the housing market to overall economic growth.”
Growth in new households trailed population growth before the pandemic, Pew noted, and slower household growth “could mean less demand for housing and household goods. There also may be a decline in the number of renters and homeowners, and in overall housing activity.”
That’s speculation. What’s certain is that many moms and dads don’t have the same elbow room around the house that they enjoyed just six months ago.
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