Even before the term COVID-19 entered our collective vocabulary, many millennials were struggling financially. The high costs of housing and health care have spurred what some call the Great Affordability Crisis. Add to that the tens of thousands of dollars in student debt many young Americans carry and an average income estimated at 20% lower than baby boomers made at the same age (when adjusted for inflation), and it’s easy to understand why.
So, when the coronavirus pandemic shut businesses down across the country, many millennials who were already just scraping by were forced to find more affordable living situations. For an overwhelming majority, that has meant moving back in with mom and dad.
According to a study by Pew Research Center, the number of young adults living with one or both of their parents rose by 2.6 million between February and July 2020. This increase raised the number of millennials living at home to a record high of 26.6 million.
When you look at this in percentages, the gravity of this number becomes even more significant. According to the Pew study, 52% of young adults in the United States lived with one or both parents as of July. The increase was seen in all major racial and ethnic groups, genders and census regions.
Before 2020, the highest percentage of young adults living with their parents recorded was 48%, determined during the 1940 census. This means that more young adults are currently living back at home now than they were following the Great Depression in the 1930s, making it the first time ever that more than half of 18- to 34-year-olds live at home with their parents.
Older Americans typically have more financial security to fall back on, which likely contributes to the trend. Even if they don’t move back in with their parents, many millennials receive help from them. According to a survey by Country Financial, 65% of parents with adult children say that they have given their kids financial assistance during the pandemic, with 35% providing at least moderately more than they were prior to the pandemic.
Bobbi Rebell is a certified financial planner whose 20-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter are currently living at home.
“You may have student debt and not much savings, and that’s why (you) are moving home,” Rebell told USA Today. “It’s really not their fault.”