(Bloomberg) — Ah, to be young and wild and not at all free. Living with your parents. In your late-20s.
In January, the U.S. Department of Education released a kind of “Where Are They Now” report on Americans it had begun surveying a decade ago when they were high school sophomores. The approximately 13,000 participants in the 2012 follow-up survey were around the age of 26. The statistical renderings of their lives offer a snapshot of the older half of the U.S.’s millennial generation and provide some — albeit narrow — perspective on what it means to have entered adulthood amid the tremors of the Great Recession.
Some notable data on 26(ish)-year-olds in the U.S.: Thirteen percent “reported they were neither working for pay nor taking postsecondary courses.” Of those who had enrolled in college, 60.2 percent reported they had taken out student loans. Forty percent had been unemployed for one or more months since January 2009; 20.6 percent owned/paid mortgage on their current residence. Money was a source of anxiety, which is understandable since 53.8 percent made less than $25,000 from employment in 2011.
On the potentially brighter side: 56.7 percent of those working recognized their current job as a step on the “path toward career goals.” Even better, 10.5 percent of those employed suggested that their “current job fulfills career goals.” You can choose to read the latter figure as either a sign of unbridled optimism or deficient ambition. I choose the former. I have faith in us.
The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann — who, like some of those surveyed, graduated college in 2008 — presented some of the survey findings in a series of charts. Fellow millennial Katy Waldman wrote of the study in a Slate piece bearing the headline, “More 27-Year-Olds Live With Parents Than Roommates.” Yikes.
Indeed, the data on “current living arrangements” were particularly interesting: 22.6 percent were living with their parents, compared with 42.3 percent living with a spouse or partner, 18.9 percent living alone, 10 percent living with roommate(s) and 6.2 percent in an “other” living situation. Education makes a difference: Broadly, those with more schooling were less likely to be living at home.
If nothing else, the survey provides a bit more contour for the amorphous — and at times somewhat derogatory — living “in their parents’ basement” stereotype that continues to attach itself to our generation.