Young Adults’ Changing Socioeconomic Characteristics, 1980-2013

January 12, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

Automotive | Demographics & Audiences | Education | Youth & Gen X

CensusBureau-Young-Adults-Changing-Socioeconomic-Characteristics-Jan2015The Census Bureau recently released new statistics from the American Community Survey, also highlighting how young adults’ socioeconomic characteristics have changed over the past few decades. The results include some intriguing data: this cohort’s share of the population has actually declined over the years, while the percentage living in poverty has grown to almost 20%.

The following is a quick listing of the high-level national data provided (also available by state, county or metro areas):

  • During the 2009-2013 period, 18-34-year-olds comprised 23.4% of the US population, down from 29.6% in 1980;
  • After growing from $35,845 in 1990 to $37,355 in 2000, median earnings for full-time workers aged 18-34 have dropped to an average of $33,883 in the latest 5-year period (2009-2013) in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars;
  • Almost 1 in 5 18-34-year-olds (19.7%) had income below the poverty level during the 2009-2013 period, up from 14.1% in 1980;
  • Perhaps as a result, more than 3 in 10 “Millennials” (30.3% to be precise) lived with a parent who is the householder during the 2009-2013 period, up from 22.9% in 1980;
  • The share of youth living alone has remained fairly steady over the years, ranging from 7.1-7.5%;
  • During the recent 5-year period examined, almost two-thirds (65.9%) of 18-34-year-olds reported never having been married, an almost 60% rise from 41.5% in 1980;
  • Some 22.3% of this age cohort had a bachelor’s degree or higher during 2009-2013, up from 15.7% in 1980;
  • Just 57.2% of 18-34-year-olds were non-Hispanic Whites during the 2009-2013 period, down from 78.4% in 1980;
  • The share of 18-34-year-olds who are foreign born has increased from 6.3% in 1980 to 15.4% in the 2009-2013 period, though that growth appears to have stalled since 2000 (15.8%);
  • Some 84.5% of 18-34-year-old workers drove a car, truck, van or carpooled to work during the 2009-2013 average, down slightly from 86.7% in 2000;
  • Almost one-quarter – 24.6% – of youth today (2009-2013) speak a language other than English in the home, more than double the share (10.9%) in 1980;
  • Only 2.4% are veterans as of the 2009-2013 period, a significant decline from 9.4% in 1980; and
  • Some 65% were employed during the most recent period, down from 70.6% in 1990;

For more statistics about the size of today’s Millennials population, see the article, “So How Many Millennials Are There in the US, Anyway?

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