The number of adult children who have had to move back home with their parents is at a level not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s, according to a new study.
A majority of 18- to 29-year-olds have moved home because of the coronavirus pandemic, subsequent shutdowns and quarantines, and job losses, a Pew Research Center study found.
“Young adults have been particularly hard-hit by this year’s pandemic and economic downturn, and have been more likely to move than other age groups,” study authors Richard Fry, Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn wrote Friday.
The number tipped into the majority in July, when 52% of young adults reported having moved home. In February, when the coronavirus pandemic started in the U.S. in earnest, 47% of young adults were living with their parents. The study comes from Pew’s analysis of monthly Census Bureau data.
That 52% equates to 26.6 million young adults of all racial and ethnic groups, both genders, urban and rural areas, according to Pew. But, the study authors said, growth was “sharpest,” for young white adults ages 18 to 24.
At the end of the Great Depression — an economic decline sparked by a stock market crash in 1929 that lasted a decade — 48% of young adults had moved in with their parents. The authors cautioned that some data were lacking for that period.
“The pattern is consistent with employment losses since February. The youngest adults have been more likely than other age groups to lose their jobs or take a pay cut,” Pew reported. “The share of 16- to 24-year-olds who are neither enrolled in school nor employed more than doubled from February (11%) to June (28%) due to the pandemic and consequent economic downturn.”
Because unmarried college students who live in dorms are counted by the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey as living with their parents, their moving home because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, this spring would not register. Students who lived off campus and returned home would, however, Cohn said in an email to VOA.
But this year, the increase in young adults living with their parents in the summer was much sharper than usual — 5 percentage points higher in July than in February, compared with 2 percentage points for the same period in 2019, Cohn said.
In a July 6 report Cohn authored for Pew, "Among all adults who moved due to the pandemic, 23% said the most important reason was because their college campus had closed, and 18% said it was due to job loss or other financial reasons."
And while Asian, Black and Hispanic young adults have been more likely to live with their parents than white young adults, that gap has narrowed since February, Pew stated.
“In fact, whites accounted for about two-thirds (68%) of the increase in young adults living with their parents. As of July, more than half of Hispanic (58%) and Black (55%) young adults now live with their parents, compared with about half of white (49%) and Asian (51%) young adults,” the study found.
While both young women and men have “experienced increases in the number and share of residing with Mom, Dad or both parents since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak,” young men are more likely to be home than young women, the report stated.
Urban young adults are more likely than rural young adults to have returned home, but both groups experienced increases.
“Growth was sharpest in the South, where the total rose by more than a million and the share increased by 6 percentage points, from 46% to 52%,” Pew reported. “But the Northeast retained its status as the region where the highest share of young adults live with their parents (57%).”