Young Adults Hard-Hit in Recession, Census Shows

December 15, 2011 | Comments Off on Young Adults Hard-Hit in Recession, Census Shows

While the recession officially ended in mid-2009, young adults in their 20s and 30s continue to feel the after-effects, facing the highest unemployment since World War II and at risk for living in poverty more than other age groups. Young adults are purchasing fewer homes, unable to find work, avoiding long-distance moves, moving in with their parents, and even delaying marriage, new data from the U.S. Census shows. 

Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard University, refers to young adults as the “lost generation,” and says that they have been badly scarred in the recession. 

“We have a monster jobs problem, and young people are the biggest losers,” adds Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. “Their really high levels of underemployment and unemployment that will haunt young people for at least another decade.”

For young adults aged 16-29, employment was the lowest since the end of World War II at 55.3 percent in 2010, compared with 67.3 percent in 2000. 

The share of long-distance moves across state for adults aged 18-34 dropped 4.4 percent to about 3.2 million people in 2010, also the lowest level since World War II. As such, more young adults are opting to move back with their parents. About 5.9 million Americans aged 25-34 lived with their parents in 2010, which is a 25 percent increase compared to prior to the recession. Men are nearly twice as likely as women to live with their parents.

“We are really at a crossroads,” William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told the Associated Press. “These new young immigrants and their children need a pathway to the middle class–good educations, affordable housing and jobs–at the same time federal and state budgets are strapped for funds. While we face tough choices, the quality of our future labor force depends on meeting their needs.”

Source: “Census: Recession Takes Big Toll on Young Adults,” Associated Press (Sept. 22, 2011)


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