More than 92 million Americans -- 37 percent of the civilian population who are 16 and older -- are not only not working, but they aren't really even looking for jobs. By the government's definition, to sit in the “not in the labor force” category means you haven’t looked for work recently enough to be counted as unemployed. The share of people not in the labor force remains near all-time highs, according to the October jobs report. But guess what? It's not mid-lifers discouraged about their re-employment prospects sitting on the sidelines: It's their kids.
The Pew Research Center's analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data says that teens and young adults just aren’t all that interested in entering the work force, a trend that predates the Great Recession.
So what's going on here? Have mid-lifers become the nation's shoulders, on which all burdens are thrust? They care for their aging relatives, often at their own expense; they fight to stay employed despite unaddressed ageism; and their children are returning home to their basements in record numbers expecting support.
According to Pew, the share of 16- to 24-year-olds saying they didn’t want a job rose from an average 29.5 percent in 2000 to an average 39.4 percent over the first 10 months of this year. And among people aged 55 and up -- this includes those of retirement age -- the share saying they didn’t want a job actually fell, to an average 58.2 percent this year.
Young adults are staying in or returning to school rather than chancing a tough job market, says the Pew analysis. And why is that? Because, at least in some cases, their parents let them.
The New York Times in June reported that one in five people in their 20s and early 30s lives with his or her parents; 60 percent of all young adults, including those living on their own, get financial support from their parents. That’s a big jump from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support.
Pew's own numbers are even harsher. The research center in 2012 reported that three-in-10 young adults ages 25 to 34 (29 percent) lived with their parents.
The common wisdom holds that people born in the late 1980s and early 1990s came of age amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. They graduated college as the financial systems were imploding and the housing market was collapsing. And they graduated with the highest debt burden in history. More common wisdom says that the negative impact of graduating into a recession sticks around for a great long while -- in fact, it may never fully disappear. The Times article notes that those who graduated into the recession of the early 1980s were still making substantially less money than those who graduated into the economic boom a few years later.
While the economic dependency may not translate into an emotional burden -- in other words, some parents don't mind having the kiddos move back in. Indeed parents with an adult child back home because of economic conditions are just as satisfied with their family life and housing situation as those parents whose adult children have not moved back home, found Pew.
And now if Pew could just give us a clue how it all will end.
Also, if your adult kid does move back home, here are a few things to remember. Has your adult child moved back home? Let us know in comments.