Guest post: Hayley Day is a 26-year-old college grad who lives with her parents in Mason. She’s working at a bar while she looks for a job in journalism.
Today, when I woke, my Mom made me breakfast. She asked if I finished my homework and if I wanted Dad to clean the snow off my car before work.
This wouldn’t be strange – if I was 15. But at 26, I envisioned myself writing for national magazines in my Brooklyn apartment and planning my next European vacation with my equally successful fiancé.
Instead, I write for local, and sometimes national, publications in my childhood bedroom and take classes at the local community college. I use my bachelor’s degree from Miami University to serve tables at the neighborhood Irish pub, and sometimes my boyfriend and I can scrounge enough money for a Red Lobster dinner.
“What are you doing here?” former high school classmates or teachers often ask, while I dispense pints of Guinness with pained humility.
It’s not like I’m alone. According to Moody’s Analytics, as reported by the New York Times, a sound economy would have 1.1. million more households held by those in the 15-to-34 demographic than currently.
Fellow server Kelly Young, 26, of Hamilton has lived with her parents for the past two years of college and since her graduation last semester. Same as Krystal Lewis, 26, of Morrow, who moved in with her mom in 2009 to save money while finishing her degree.
Since the start of the recession in 2007 to 2010, the number of adult children living with their parents increased by 1.2 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But why? We’re educated, skilled, cheap. We want to move out, at least to avoid explaining to our parents why we sometimes don’t come home at night.
Benjamin Passty, research assistant professor of economics at the University of Cincinnati, said employers often require specific skills gained through experience, leaving us recent college graduates out.
Even glimmers of hope, like the 2 percent GDP growth in the 2012 third quarter, aren’t as promising as they appear.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean there are more jobs,” said Passty. “It could be that people are becoming more productive at their current ones.”
Fewer than half of college graduates, from 2006 to 2011, work full time, according to a Rutgers University study released last May. That’s full time at one job – not counting 20-somethings like me, who work 50 hours at two.
Details like that seem unimportant to the economy. The details are I’m a first-generation college grad who was hit by a drunken driver a month after graduation and a week after my parents’ insurance lapsed, leaving me unable to work for four months, and the medical bills quadrupled my $40,000 student loan debt.
Yet, my life is better than in 2008, when I graduated. I have a savings account, I can walk without crutches and payroll employment continues to increase, although modestly.
Things could be worse – I could have to learn to cook for myself.