Monday, July 21, 2014

When the Empty Nest Isn’t – A Regional Look at Millennials Who Remain At Home After the College Years

A recent request for data got me thinking about Generation Y, or the Millennials, and their role as fillers of an otherwise empty nest for their parents. As a matter of definition, Millennials are those born post-1980 and prior to the year 2000. For my purposes here I was really only interested in those that would normally be assumed to be post-college age. In other words, age 24 and older. In addition, I wanted to narrow this group down further to only those that presently live in their parents (or step-parents) home.

To start, more than 5,000 of the almost 37,000 Millennials between the ages of 24 and 34 who presently live in Herkimer and Oneida Counties have remained in their parents' homes. This is based on the 2012 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) of the 2012 ACS for the two main PUMS areas covering the majority of our region. Of the 5,149 such “Millennial Nesters” identified in the PUMS, the majority are males (62%).

Click to Enlarge

Most “Nesters” are under the age of 30 than over it; about seven out of ten members of the targeted sample is between the ages of 24 and 29 years old. The vast majority are not currently attending school (84%), although about 12% are taking undergraduate courses, and another 4% are doing graduate work.

About 40% of “Nesters” have only a high school education or less. Around 30% have some sort of college degree – 11% an associate’s degree, 16% a bachelor’s degree, and 4% have advanced degrees.

Most “Nesters” have jobs – about 75% of this population are currently employed. Of the remaining quarter, 10% are unemployed while about 15% are technically “not in the labor force”, which includes those going to school, as well as those not pursuing work for other reasons.

Some of the Millennials who remain in their parents’ homes may be there as a result of marriages gone bad. One in ten (10%) of all “Nesters” are currently either divorced or separated. Another 4% are still married and assumedly with their spouse in their parents’ domicile.

So on the surface these Millennial Nesters appear to be mostly males, under the age of 30, many of whom have college degrees and most of whom have jobs. It is worth looking a bit closer however, particularly at differences between the sexes and among those that have those college degrees.

When it comes to male and female Nesters, an identical percentage of both groups are not currently attending school (84%). However, among the 16% of Nesters attending school but still living at home, almost all of the males (14%) are taking undergraduate courses; very few males are living at home while pursuing a graduate degree. In comparison, half of the females attending school while still living in their parents home (8%) are enrolled in graduate course work. This might make some sense given that females living at home are generally older than their male counterparts - females were almost twice as likely to be age 30 or older compared to males in this sample.

Click to Enlarge

Almost half (44%) of all males only had a high school diploma (or less) among Nesters. In comparison about a third of all females (34%) had similar levels of education.

In terms of work, more than a quarter (27%) of all male Nesters were not working. Some were unemployed while others were not in the labor force, meaning that they were not seeking employment for any number of reasons. About 21% of the females living at home among Millennials were currently not working.

As noted above, some of the Millennial Nesters have actually gotten married and returned to (or perhaps never left) the nest. Females were far more likely to have been in this situation than males. While only about 4% of Nesters of both sexes indicate that they are presently married, 21% of females said that they were either divorced or currently separated from their spouse while still living at home with their parents. Only about 4% of males said that they were either currently divorced or separated. 

In comparing those Nesters who have at least an Associate's degree or higher to those with no college degree (but perhaps some college course work) those with college degrees were more likely to be employed than those without a degree (81% versus 73%).

When it comes to ever having been married (either currently married or currently separated or divorced) Nesters without a college degree were more than twice as likely to have ever entered into matrimony. Around 17% of these less educated Nesters have been married and still live at home; only about 8% of Nesters with an Associate's degree or higher were living in the parents' homes while either presently married or having been married in the past.

Females were more likely to have gotten some sort of college degree than their male counterparts. Thirty-five percent (35%) of females who still lived at home with their parents had a college degree; around 28% of males had an Associate's degree or higher.

Probably one of the most interesting, and maybe concerning, pieces found in the data was the percentage of Millennial Nesters who are doing nothing: they are not taking college courses, they are not employed or they are not part of the work force due to other reasons.

Almost one out of five Nesters (19.4%) are doing nothing at the present moment. As the graph below points out, most are young males without any type of college degree. Compared to the general population of Nesters, a similar number said that they had ever been married.

Click to Enlarge