- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 28 September 2016
- Written by KELLI GALAYDA | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
State has Highest Percentage of Young Adults in the Country Still Living at Home
According to recent Census data provided by NJ.com, New Jersey has the highest percentage in the country of millennials aged 18 to 34 that still live at home with their parents. While this may seem like a sign of decreasing independence for this generation, a closer look suggests that millennials might actually be making a smarter and safer choice.
Financially, avoiding mortgage and even rent might be a viable option for millennials who are overwhelmed with student loan debt. Nick VanDaley, a graduate student at the University, said, “Having to take out loans to go to a university has crippled [millennials] before we even begin our adult lives. While our parents established their credit through buying homes and cars, our credit will be built upon our student loans. This comes at a price, however, as we aren’t able to afford much else.”
NJ.com also highlighted Census data that showed how New Jersey is falling behind the nation in wage growth, and Bureau of Labor Statistics data that reported a scant 1.4 percent in job growth within the state. VanDaley said, “Stagnating wages, New Jersey as the worst in the country, hinder [millennials] from being full consumers,” unlike generations of America’s past.
In addition, New Jersey’s high property taxes make home ownership for millennials even more intangible, especially those with student loan debt. Census data revealed that NJ has the highest property taxes in the country. With an income based on meager wages, mortgage payments won’t fit in the budget.
Mike Grant, a junior at the University, further explained the reality many millennials are facing. Grant said, “I bet if kids could move out, they would. Especially if they went to college and got the taste of living on their own. Who wants to backtrack and live with their parents? But I do not blame the millennial, who is all too often accused of being ‘lazy’, as much as I blame the unreliable job market, the crippling student debts, and the highest property taxes any state has to offer. It would appear to be the perfect storm, keeping millennials inside, and more specifically, inside their parents’ homes.”
However, the repercussions of living at home are not all negative. Lisa Dinella, Ph.D., a professor of psychology, explained how millennials are looking to “optimize a work-life balance,” and are using technology to work in more convenient ways instead of simply working to pay the bills. “Millennials’ behaviors are often mistaken for laziness or for lack of dedication to their jobs, but in reality millennials are ready to work hard and be dedicated, just in ways that allow more time to focus on more important things such as family,” said Dinella.
“Millennials want leadership positions, but they also want to work smart,” added Dinella.
Millennials appear to be striving not only towards a smarter work life, but a smarter financial life as well. Patterns in their behavior reflect the attitudes of a generation that absorbed the shock of a nation-wide financial crisis that rocked the economy in the late 2000s.
Robert Scott, Ph.D., a professor of economics, further explained these patterns. He said, “One trend I have noticed is that this generation is generally, financially conservative.” For example, if given the option of a guaranteed job at X salary or another job that has a larger upside but might be a bit riskier, they will tend to pick the more secure option.
“This isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” added Scott, “but I do think the financial crisis and housing crash has made this generation of students more conscientious about what can go wrong and the financial consequences.”
All of this reinforces millennials’ ambition to start working, and more importantly, start receiving an income. Scott continued, “I would love to see more students take time after college to travel and explore the world. But most of them want to get to work—again, not a terrible thing.”
Travelling, however, is a favorable option for millennials’ when it comes to travelling for work. Dinella said, “Millennials are more willing to travel because of their recognition of the global market,” a view molded by the technology they grew up on. This generation is generally ready to pack up and move to any location a job is promised, as they are conscious of the growing opportunities available worldwide.A generation widely deemed “lazy” and “lacking in independence” is slowly proving themselves to be quite the opposite. Economic conservation makes millennials stand out from consumers of America’s past, showcasing how this generation is carefully crafting a more modern American dream reflective of a contemporary society. Millennials might be spending more time living under their parents’ roofs, but overall, they are a generation of dedicated workers, working to be financially secure and comfortable in all aspects of life.