6 numbers that explain why millennials are moving back home.

Millennials moving back home seems to be one of the themes of this generation.

Image from iStock.

But the narrative around "moving back home" can be muddy. Why is it happening? What is it like to live at home? Is it a last resort or a smart choice? Here are six numbers that tell the story many people are missing:


39.5% (How many millennials lived with family in 2015)

That's a 75-year high, according to an analysis by real estate site Trulia. Though the economy's recovered since the 2008 economic crisis, the share of 18-35-year-olds living at home has continued to rise.

24.1%  (The number of kids living at home in the 1960s)

Though the number might seem high, it's worth remembering that there's always been some proportion of young people who live with families. The 60s were kind of the low bar for living at home, but that said, 24.1% of young adults still lived with family in 1960. Afterward, the number rose again, staying mostly in the low 30s from 1980 onward.

1940  (the last year so many young adults were in this situation)

In that year, about 40.9% of young adults lived with family, according to the Wall Street Journal. At the time, the U.S. economy was still recovering from the Great Depression and was still a few years from the giant post-World War II boom.

$30,100  (the typical amount of a millennial's student debt in 2015)

Student debt has become an unprecedented problem for young people. The median 2015 undergraduate will end up owing more than $30,000 in debt. That's up more than 50% in the last 10 years, according to the Institute of College Access and Success.

-$2,362  (how much real wages have changed — yes, it's a negative number)

If you adjust for inflation, median young households are making more than $2,000 less than a Gen-Xer did in 1998, per year, according to the Pew Research Center. It was $63,365 back then versus $61,003 today.

(That said, millennials are still up about $1,000 from boomers in 1980, but if you factor in student debt, an extra $1,000 doesn't seem to count for much.)

$234,900 (how much the typical new home will set you back today)

While wages haven't been going up, home prices have. According to CBS News, a new home will set you back almost a quarter of a million dollars, on average, as of this writing. That's up about 7% from last year. Rental prices have also been rising pretty dramatically.

Put together, the economic bar for independence is rising while wage stagnation and debt are pulling millennials down. Of course, millennials are still a major force in the housing market. About 35% do, in fact, own their own homes, and millennials make up the biggest share of first-time home buyers. There's just so many of them.

Today's young adults live in a different world from their parents. These numbers explain a lot about their new reality, and they show that some things will need to shift.

Image from iStock.

Things like stigma or expectations or even maybe policy about housing will need to change. And of course, everyone's going to have to do what's best for them. For some people, the best thing to do might mean moving away. For some people, that means moving back home.

So the next time you find yourself in another conversation about millennials, remember these numbers. And that behind them are real, difficult, complicated, weird, but most of all human stories and decisions.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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