business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Pew Research Center is out with a new study chronicling how the coronavirus outbreak "has pushed millions of Americans, especially young adults, to move in with family members."

Here's how Pew lays out this new reality:

" The share of 18- to 29-year-olds living with their parents has become a majority since U.S. coronavirus cases began spreading early this year, surpassing the previous peak during the Great Depression era.

"In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. The number living with parents grew to 26.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million from February. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24) and for White young adults."

The report goes on:

"The share of young adults living with their parents is higher than in any previous measurement (based on current surveys and decennial censuses). Before 2020, the highest measured value was in the 1940 census at the end of the Great Depression, when 48% of young adults lived with their parents. The peak may have been higher during the worst of the Great Depression in the 1930s, but there is no data for that period."

Eye-Opening statistics.

It was Robert Frost who once wrote, in "The Death of the Hired Man"…

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,

They have to take you in."

Many of us have had the experience of having adult children living with us over the past few months.  In many ways, it has been a gift - time spent together that we might not have had otherwise, and that we may never get again.  (Though, I think it is fair to say, a gift that can have its stresses.)

But here's what retailers need to think about - the fact that these young people are in many ways being taken out of the consumer class or, at least, being limited in their ability to contribute to the conduct of commerce.

One wonders how long it will taken for them to regain lost momentum, and what the cost to the country will be.