More young adults strike out on their own

A student registers at the Barnard College Career Fair on September 7, 2012 in New York City.

It takes a special kind of person to get excited about a bureaucratic data dump -- but news coming out today from the U.S. Census had some possibly-hopeful signs for the U.S. Economy.  One that jumped out at us?  After hunkering down at mom and dad's house to weather the Recession over the last few years, more young adults are taking the leap and moving out. 

At least, some of them are. 

Take Hallie Moberg, from Dayton, Ohio. She graduated from college a year ago, applied for 35 jobs just in the last couple months and so far... no takers.  For the meantime, she's back home, living with mom.  

“I started my life, and then I've come back and I'm in the middle of her life again,” Moberg says. “I feel kinda bored and frustrated. I’m glad I have Netflix.”

But next month, Moberg's taking her Netflix and taking a leap.  She's moving out to Chicago, to look for work there.  All across the country there are a lot of young adults taking the same leap -- and that's a good sign, according to demographer Mark Mather at the Population Reference Bureau.

“These are people who are just starting out,” he says. “So if they're not confident about their futures, it’s kind of a barometer of how the population overall is doing.”

And that barometer seems to be going up. The latest numbers show that 13.6 percent of young adults live at home --  about a half-percent fewer than a year ago. 

“You know that national trend is very good news,” says Sarah Burd-Sharps, who co-directs a study called Measure of America with the Social Science Research Council. 

“But not everybody has the same tools for achieving these dreams,” Burd-Sharps says. “We perhaps focus too little on disconnected communities where people don’t have necessarily the kind of social networks to link kids to job training programs, to apprenticeships, etc.” 

Take young African-American men. Fewer of them were living at home this year, too -- in pace with the national trend. But they have an even bigger trend they're up against: currently 29 percent live at home, compared to just 14 percent of young white men. 

About the author

Krissy Clark is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Wealth & Poverty Desk.

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