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More young adults in the U.S. live with their parents than at any time since the Great Depression

COVID caseloads double as U.S. economy suffers
COVID caseloads double as U.S. economy suffer... 03:10

A record number of young adults in the U.S. have had to move back in with their parents because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent analysis from the Pew Research Center.

Some 52% of 18-to-29-year-olds are now living with one or both parents, the nonpartisan think tank found in assessing Census data. That's the first time on record that more than half of that age group has lived with their parents, the research center said. The latest figure is up 5 percentage points from February. 

Pew noted that the share of younger working age adults living at home could have been higher during the Great Depression, but that figures don't exist for that time period. The portion of youth living with their parents hit a low in 1960 and has steadily risen since, according to Pew.

The procession home was led by the youngest adults, with 71% of 18-to-24-year-olds living with parents in July, up from 63% in February. Notably, the widespread closure of college campuses earlier this spring didn't have a noticeable impact on this jump, Pew noted. That's because the Current Population Survey, on which this analysis is based, already considers unmarried students living in dorms as living with their parents.

Young people across all major demographic groups moved back home. "The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions," Pew researchers wrote.

In the Northeast, 57% of young people lived with their parents, the highest of any region. Men were more likely to live with parents than women were (55% versus 49%). All told, about 2.6 million young people moved in with parents between February and July, according to Pew. Another 680,000 lived with the parents of a spouse or partner, but those numbers were not counted in the totals in order to make the figure comparable with historic data.

Two different pandemic economies 08:00

As with the Depression and the Great Recession following the 2008 financial crisis, economic disruption is largely responsible for the wholesale shifting of living patterns.

Young people have been the most likely to lose work or take a pay cut during the pandemic, according to related Pew research. They are the most likely to be struggling with high housing costs, according to a recent Gallup poll, and the least optimistic about their personal finances.

The public health crisis has taken a heavy mental toll on this group, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that two-thirds of young adults experienced anxiety or depression in relation to the pandemic, and a quarter had seriously considered suicide.

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