Financial Services Blog

Young Adults

How do the Economic Milestones of Young Adults Today Compare with Prior Generations?

If you’re the parent of a young adult who is still living at home, you might be wondering whether this situation is commonplace. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau study, it is: One in three young people (ages 18 to 34) lived in their parents’ home in 2015.

The Census Bureau study examines how the economic and demographic characteristics of young adults have changed from 1975 to 2016. In 1975, for example, less than one-fourth of young adults (ages 25 to 34) had a college degree. Young adults in 2016 are better educated — more than one-third hold a college degree (or higher) — but student loan debt has made it more difficult for them to obtain financial stability, let alone establish homes of their own in their 20s.

More young adults in 2016 had full-time jobs than their counterparts did in 1975. In particular, young women ages 25 to 34 are experiencing economic gains, with more than two-thirds in the workforce compared with less than half in 1975. Young women today are also earning more money than they did in 1975 — their median incomes have grown from nearly $23,000 in 1975 to more than $29,000 in 2016 (in 2015 dollars).

Despite the educational and economic advances that young adults have made over the last 40 years, many are postponing traditional adult milestones. In fact, a majority of young adults are not living independently of their parents. Of the 8.4 million 25- to 34-year-olds still living at home, one in four are not attending school or working. It’s important to note, though, that this could be because they are caring for a family member or have health issues or a disability.

Compared to 40 years ago, the timing and accomplishment of milestones on the path to adulthood are much more diverse and complex today. To view the full report, visit census.gov.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau, “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016,” April 2017

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