- The pandemic caused a temporary spike in the number of young adults living with their parents.
- More than two years later, many millennials and Gen Zers are still there.
- Inflation has made it even harder for those just starting out, who were already squeezed by student loan balances and sky-high housing costs.
At the height of the Covid pandemic, many young adults moved back in with mom and dad.
It was an unprecedented moment of uncertainty; college campuses were closed, and jobs were scarce.
More than two years later, 67% of millennials and Gen Zers who moved home are still there, according to a recent report by LendingTree.
Most said they initially moved in with their parents out of necessity or to save money. Hefty student loan bills from school and soaring housing costs have put a financial stranglehold on those just starting out. Now the surging cost of living and sky-high rents are making it harder to move on.
"With inflation as high as it is and with rates rising, it can be difficult for anyone to make ends meet in today's economy," said Jacob Channel, LendingTree's senior economist.
Overall, multigenerational living is on the rise and has been for years.
The number of households with two or more adult generations has quadrupled over the past five decades, according to a Pew Research Center report based on census data from 1971 to 2021. Such households now represent 18% of the U.S. population, it estimates.
To that end, multigenerational living has grown the fastest among adults ages 25 to 34.
In 2020, the share of those living with their parents — often referred to as "boomerang kids" — temporarily spiked to a historic high.
"The pandemic was a short-term rocket, but the levels today are still significantly above where they were in 2019 — and it's been rising over the past 50 years," said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew.
Now, 25% of young adults live in a multigenerational household, up from just 9% five decades ago.
In most cases, 25- to 34-year-olds are living in the home of one or both of their parents. A smaller share live in their own home and have a parent or other older relative stay with them.
The percentage of young adults living with parents or grandparents is even greater among men and those without a college degree.
"It's really a private social safety net for them," Fry said.
Young adults without a bachelor's degree tend to earn substantially less than those who finished college, Pew also found.
Not surprisingly, older parents are also more likely to pay for most of the expenses when two or more generations share a home. The typical 25- to 34-year-old in a multigenerational household contributes 22% of the total household income, Pew found.
For parents, however, supporting grown children can be a substantial drain at a time when their own financial security is at risk.
In an economy that has produced the highest inflation rate since the early 1980s, the cost of having young adults living at home has risen sharply.
But, overall, there is an economic benefit to these living arrangements, Pew found, and Americans living in multigenerational households are less likely to be financially vulnerable.