The recession makes strange bedfellows as more households are forced to "double up."
Grown children moving back in with their parents sounds like the formula for a sitcom, but for millions of households, it is no laughing matter. The number and share of doubled-up households and adults sharing households across the country has increased over the course of the recession, the Census Bureau reports.
The Census Bureau defines a “doubled-up” house as one in which “at least one more adult is living there who is not enrolled in school and is not the main householder, spouse, or cohabiting partner of the householder.” The recession began in December 2007 and was pronounced over in June 2009.
Last spring, there were nearly 22 million “doubled-up” households across the country amounting 18.3 percent of all households. Four years ago, there were nearly 20 million, or 17 percent. All in all, the report concluded, 61.7 million adults, or 27.7 percent, were doubled-up in 2007, rising to 69.2 million, or 30.0 percent, in 2011.
Hit the hardest were young adults, with 5.9 million people ages 25 to 34 living in their parents’ household in 2011, up from 4.7 million before the recession. That left 14.2 percent of young adults living in their parents’ households in March 2011, up more than two percentage points over the period.
The finding is part of the Census Bureau’s latest poverty report. The poverty rate increased to 15.1 percent, the highest level since 1993. “These young adults who lived with their parents had an official poverty rate of only 8.4 percent, since the income of their entire family is compared with the poverty threshold,” Census Bureau report author David Johnson found. “If their poverty status were determined by their own income, 45.3 percent would have had income falling below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65.
This is further bad news for the stagnant economy not to mention parents who themselves may still be feeling the impact of the 2008 financial crisis and do not have disposable income to spend on themselves let alone their live at home progeny.
These finding underscore concerns expressed in a 2011 Millionaire Corner study of households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million that found of the 59 percent worried about the financial situation of their children and grandchildren, 62 percent were boomers between the ages of 55-64. More than half of those in this age group as well as those older than 65 said they were concerned about having someone to take care of them in their senior years.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.