Home sweet home

Author: admin

Like many teens raised in small towns – in my case, Bend, Oregon, in the early ‘50’s – I couldn’t wait to kick off the dust of “Hickville” and get on to discovering the outside world. The “real” world. No small town hayseeds for me. I wanted to “get on with life.”

That from a guy who – four score years later – lived in an Oregon burg of less than 1,400. Five bars, two gas stations, no drug store and the only grocery store is four miles out of town. But, in the intervening 63 years, I’ve seen a lot of the world and had many life-changing experiences. And I never moved back in with my folks.

These days, that’s not the case for a lot of youngsters. The U.S. Census Bureau has come up with numbers describing some interesting changes in what happens to the 20-somethings who grew up with the same anxious exodus feeling I did but who didn’t get far from the nest.

We’re talking comparisons over more than a 40 year stretch from the ‘70’s to 2015. And the big one is this: more young people live with their parents now than in any other living arrangement the Bureau tracks. Which is all of them. About one-in-three or some 24-million 18-34-year-olds either moved back in with parents or never left.

Marriage for the young folks isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. Most will still marry. But in the ‘70’s, eight in 10 got hitched by the age of 30. Forty years later, that same ratio doesn’t happen until age 45.

A dozen years ago, a majority of young adults lived independently. That was the case in 35 states. Now, it’s just six states. And all are in the Midwest or Plains. Figure that one out.

Most young people today believe getting an education and being economically successful are the most important milestones of being an adult. Over half feel getting married and having kids – not so much. Big switch there.

Young men – along with most of us – seem more stuck at the bottom of the income ladder than before. Forty years ago, 25-percent ages 25-to-34 had incomes of less than $30,000 a year. In 2015, that percentage jumped to 41. The comparison used 2015 dollars in both cases. Imagine the loss in purchasing power.

And, finally, of those still living at home, one-in-four are unemployed. Not going to school. Not working. So, figure about 2.2-million 25-34-year-olds not in the workforce. They’re also more likely to have a child and more than a quarter qualify as disabled.

Those are some pretty startling statistics. Most of us just cruise along with our lives, thinking the young folks are doing about the same as we did. Working. Getting married. Having kids. Making payments on the pickup. Just “going along” and paying the bills.

But these findings tell us a very different story. Like so much in our existence, change is occurring in every aspect of life. And every where. Whether you’re still in Hickville or got out to those larger cities that seemed so alluring.

Or even in a burg of 1,400. With five bars – two gas stations – and a grocery store four miles out of town.

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