Read of the Day: “Coming Home for the Recession”
6:00 pm, July 19th | by Colette McIntyre
In today’s Read of the Day, we bring you the third installment of Nona Willis Aronowitz’s four-part series for The American Prospect on Millennials and the new economy. In “Coming Home for the Recession,” the author investigates how the economic downturn has reinforced more traditional living patterns among some young, minority women.
In the past few years, so-called “boomerang kids”—young people who leave to pursue school or a job before returning home—have gotten a bad rap. They have been accused of being underdeveloped, harmful to the economy, or spoiled,unadventurous brats. Our twenties are now called “emerging adulthood.” There’s been constant handwringing over that scary statistic claiming 85 percent of recent college graduates move back in with their parents.
But lost in the scuffle are working-class, ethnic families like Valdez’s, where it’s completely acceptable for a kid to stay at home longer. The number of minority young adults, especially Hispanics and Asian-Americans, living at home has risen noticeably over the last five years, according to a recent Ohio State study. This is partly because uneducated Millennials—the ones most likely to live at home—are disproportionately of color. But in many of these communities, there’s less stigma attached. “It’s a culture thing,” Valdez told me. “It feels natural, and it does help if you’re struggling.” As children of immigrants become Americanized, they generally cast more traditional family structures by the wayside; pre-recession, young women like Valdez from conservative ethnic families would have declared their independence by flying the coop on their 18th birthdays. (Latinas, for their part, are still enrolling in college in record numbers.) But for some Millennials, even those pursuing a college degree, the bad economy has reinforced the same family structure they might have rebelled against a couple decades earlier.
On my reporting trip through the Rust Belt and the South, I met a number of Millennial women of color like Valdez. Thirty-year-old Sara Gonzalez commutes 25 minutes to work from the comfort of her parents’ house while she saves up for a down payment on her own place. Siwatu Salaam-Ra, 21, in Detroit, makes a full salary but chooses to live with her mother and siblings in one big townhouse to help them pay the rent. Tracey Brown, 24, who lives in New Orleans and makes $10 an hour at a co-op grocery store, isn’t supported by her mother directly, but rents her mom’s adjacent apartment at a lower cost than she would on the open market.