- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2012

It’s been confirmed: They are down with living in the basement.

About 30 percent of young Americans age 25 to 34 who once left their family homes have moved back in, says a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

Not only is there no stigma attached to being part of the “boomerang generation,” but both parents and young adults seem to be OK with the arrangements, said Kim Parker, author of the Pew report.

Just 24 percent of the young adults said moving home was “bad” for their relationships with their parents; another quarter said it was “good” for everyone, while the rest of the young adults said moving home made no difference in their family relationships.

The trend of young adults returning to their family homes had been growing steadily since the 1980s, and surged in 2007, when the Great Recession upended millions of jobs and housing situations, the Pew report says.

During the recession, which officially ended in June 2009, the number of Americans living in a multigenerational home leapt from 46.5 million to 51.4 million, the largest in modern history, the report says.

The number of 25-to-34-year-olds who returned home to live with their parents or grandparents also rose, from a low of 11 percent in 1980 to nearly 22 percent in 2010.

This boomeranging often eases financial concerns for everyone, Ms. Parker said. High numbers of young adults are paying for groceries and doing chores, and 48 percent pay rent - which in turn is welcomed by about 40 percent of their parents, the report says. In return, the young adults benefit from living with others while they pursue good jobs or education.

When will these boomerangers pack up their Ikea lamps and laptops again? The answer so far is, “We don’t know.”

The unemployment rate is still very high among young workers, Ms. Parker said. “If that comes down, and they’re able to get jobs, then this trend may not continue. But we just don’t know that.”

And what about the, uh, unmotivated young adults?

“I’m not saying they’re slackers, but there is a segment that’s struggling even more” than others, Ms. Parker said. These include young adults who don’t have a college degree and aren’t in school and are less optimistic about their future and less likely to be in a job or career that they want.

For the most part, though, this generation is very optimistic about their financial futures even though they “hit a bump in the road,” Ms. Parker said. “They think that they’re going to get where they want to be. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.”

This sounds familiar to Chevy Chase therapist Linda Perlman Gordon and nonprofit leader Susan Morris Shaffer, who co-authored the 2004 book “Mom, Can I Move Back in With You?”

“The one big change since we wrote the book was the economy falling,” Ms. Gordon said. Many adult children already were moving back into their parents’ homes, she said, but the recession “made it obvious to more people” and “normalized it.”

Their book identifies “characteristics of adulthood” for young people to cultivate and for parents to look for “to make sure they are not enabling children to be supported well into their 40s,” Ms. Shaffer said.

For instance, “if you coddle your kids too much, it erodes their self-esteem,” Ms. Gordon said. “It’s not your responsibility to wake your child up in the morning. If they have a job interview, it’s not your responsibility to send a thank-you card to the interviewer.”

The way an adult child can “get to where they want to go is having the self-confidence and resiliency to know they can do it on their own, and asking for help only when they absolutely need it,” Ms. Shaffer said.

The Pew Social and Demographic Trends report surveyed 2,048 adults nationwide, with an emphasis on adults age 25 to 34, in December 2011.



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