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What living at home with mom and dad really means to the U.S. Census

Published: Monday, July 7 2014 5:20 a.m. MDT

Oregon State University graduate Josh Donahue, 23, stands at the edge of the Rogue River in his home town of Grants Pass, Ore., Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The U.S. Census considers many college students, like Donahue, who live in dorms as millennials who live at home with mom and dad.

Jeff Barnard, AP

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Anyone who reads a newspaper or magazine or listens to the news knows that millennials are living with Mom and Dad in record numbers compared to other generations of young adults.

But the U.S. Census says young adults living in dorms at colleges are included in the category "living at home." So next time you are tempted to fret that Junior or Joyce are settling into the family basement, with no intention of leaving, don't. That's according to The Atlantic and the story "The Misguided Freakout About Basement-Dwelling Millennials."

There's no dearth of stories about the adult kid who moved back home. Take this one from the Washington Post: "Ever since the financial crisis hit, Americans have found it harder and harder to live on their own. According to a new report from the Census Bureau, the number of 'shared households' increased by a whopping 2.25 million between 2007 and 2010."

The Census reported that "In spring 2007, there were 19.7 million shared households. By spring 2010, the number of shared households had increased by 11.4 percent, while all households increased by only 1.3 percent."

Noted the New York Times: "One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support. The common explanation for the shift is that people born in the late 1980s and early 1990s came of age amid several unfortunate and overlapping economic trends."

The Atlantic offers a different take on it. Writes The Atlantic's Derek Thompson: "When you were adjusting to your freshman roommate, you were 'living with your parents.' When you snagged that sweet triple with your best friends in grad housing, you were 'living with your parents.' That one time you launched butt-rattling bottle rockets at the stroke of midnight off your fraternity roof? I hope you didn't make too much noise. After all, you were 'living with your parents,' and mine definitely went to bed around 11."

Few argue, though, that it's smooth sailing when adults move into your home, whether it's almost-grown children or aging parents. A recent Deseret News article quoted Pew Research Center data that found "those 18 to 24 are more apt to see living with their folks as positive for their relationship than do older children who return home. They are also less likely to say finances drove them home. That's the primary reason those 25-34 move back."

It also offered some suggestions for keeping relationships workable and cordial, including setting ground rules, talking through issues and treating each other with respect.

Email: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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