If you’re the parent of a Millennial you probably did his laundry this week, because chances are, he still lives at home.
I’m not judging. I was one of these young people once. I moved out of the house senior year of college but returned home after graduating in 2005. I found a job a month later that paid peanuts, so I couldn’t afford to live alone. This was before the Great Recession.
After a couple years of raises I could afford my own place, but that only lasted two years. Eventually, I couldn’t afford to heat my apartment AND eat. I live in far northern New York; I couldn’t skimp on fuel oil.
Then I got married and moved from my parents’ house to my husband’s. I supported myself for only three years of my adulthood.
Clearly, I am not an unusual case and I wasn’t a slacker either. The number of Millennials who still live at home is at a record high, The Atlantic reported this week.
The report doesn’t imply there is something wrong with Millennials. Kids in college who live in dorms are still considered to be living at home, meaning the data may be skewed. But it’s still estimated that 21.6 million Millennials live with mom and dad.
Why? Young people are flying back to the nest because fewer of them are married; it’s hard to support yourself on one, usually measly, income. And more young people are out of work these days.
But The Atlantic reports that within all groups -- the unemployed, college-bound and unmarried youth -- more are reported to be living at home than ever. The theory? Unease about the future.
Maybe I’m not in that unfortunate group of struggling young Millennials, but I can say with certainty that it’s unease keeping them at home.
Most of us graduated into an empty job market. Employed Millennials have most likely fallen victim to downsizing companies -- in fact, I was such a victim -- and the piddling pay and overwork that results.
Being young and in the world for the first time is hard enough. Imagine entering that phase of life, with all its optimism and energy, only to find disappointment and difficulty? Young people have put their dreams and their lives on hold.
I’m sure these stats do nothing to improve Millennials’ reputation. We’re already pegged as do-nothing idlers who spend all day texting and tweeting. That may be the case for some of us, but not all.
When I had to move back home, my parents charged me $200 a month for rent. That doesn’t sound like much but sadly, that’s all I could afford.
The point is, living at home doesn’t necessarily mean a free ride - and it shouldn’t. But until this world can fulfill the promises made by our college career counselors, Millennials will still need to lean on mom and dad, just a little while longer.
JH Mae is a Banner columnist.