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The media loves nothing more than making sweeping generalizations about millennials and their perceived foibles. We hate marriage and sex, soap and diamonds, free speech and the American Dream. If only we’d stop whining about health care and the environment, maybe we could find a real job and afford a place without fake walls.
Regrettably, some of the most common and worn out millennial tropes are actually true, according to a new report released by the census examining changes in young adulthood over the last 40 years. Turns out, everything your dad has ever said about the “selfie generation” was correct.
According to the study, about a third of young people today live in their parents’ home, more than those who live in any other arrangement. That number is up dramatically from just a decade ago—in 2015, young adults living independently were the majority in only 6 states; but in 2005, they were the majority in 35 states. Among those 24-to-34 year-olds living at home, a quarter of them are neither working nor enrolled in school.
The “snapshot of young adulthood” also notes that while young people are historically more educated than their predecessors, their average incomes are still less than what the equivalent cohort made in 1975—which might account for the fact that a full third of millennials say they wouldn’t have gone to college had they realized the costs in advance. While young adult workers had a median personal income of $37,000 (adjusted for inflation to 2015 dollars) in 1975, that number dropped to $35,000 in 2016.
Unsurprisingly, today’s young adults believe that “educational and economic milestones are critical milestones of young adulthood,” while more than half of millennials believe that “marriage and having children are not very important in order to become an adult.”
One bit of uplifting news: the share of young women in the workforce has risen dramatically, from 50 percent in 1975 to 70 percent today. The average income for a working young women also increased, from $23,000 to $29,000 in 2015 dollars.
Jonathan Vespa, the author of the report and a man perceptive enough to acknowledge our sweeping individuality, told the Washington Post: “It’s hard to say that there’s one experience for young adults that’s capturing how they’re all doing.”
The report does note that “Today’s young adults take longer to experience these milestones,” while asserting that “what was once ubiquitous during their 20s is not commonplace until their 30s.”
Whatever. Shut up and get out of my room, Dad.