WASHINGTON (AP) — Young adults are the recession's lost generation. In record numbers, they're struggling to find work, shunning long-distance moves to live with mom and dad, delaying marriage and raising kids out of wedlock, if they're becoming parents at all. The unemployment rate for them is the highest since World War II and they risk living in poverty more than others — nearly one in five.
New 2010 census data show the wrenching impact of a recession that officially ended in mid-2009. There are missed opportunities and dim prospects for a generation of mostly 20-somethings and 30-somethings coming of age in a prolonged period of joblessness.
People age 65 and older tended to return to or stay in their jobs, accounting for the few employment gains in recent months. About one in six older people is now in the labor force. That's the highest level since the 1960s, before more generous Social Security and Medicare benefits made it more attractive to retire.
Employment among young adults 16-29 was 55.3 percent, compared with 67.3 percent in 2000; it's the lowest since the end of World War II.
Young males who lacked a college degree were most likely to lose jobs due to reduced demand for blue-collar jobs in construction, manufacturing and transportation during the downturn. Among teenagers, employment was less than 30 percent.
Without work, young adults aren't starting careers and lives in new cities. Among adults 18-34, the share of long-distance moves across state lines fell last year to roughly 3.2 million people, or 4.4 percent, the lowest level since World War II. For college graduates, who historically are more likely to relocate out of state, long-distance moves dipped to 2.4 percent.
Opting to stay put, roughly 5.9 million Americans 25-34 last year lived with their parents, an increase of 25 percent from before the recession. Driven by a record one in five young men who doubled up in households, men are now nearly twice as likely as women to live with their parents.
Marriages fell to a record low last year of just 51.4 percent among adults 18 and over, compared with 57 percent in 2000. Among young adults 25-34, marriage was at 44.2 percent, also a new low.
Broken down by race and ethnicity, 31 percent of young black men lived in their parents' homes, compared with 21 percent of young Latino men and 15 percent of young white men.
Younger women across all race and ethnic groups had fewer children compared with 2008. Births declined six percent among 20-34 year-olds over the two-year period even though the number of women in this group increased by more than one million, according to an analysis of census data by Kenneth Johnson, sociology professor and senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire. Never before has such a drop in births occurred when the population of young adults increased in at least 15 years.
The number of Hispanic children in poverty rose by half a million to 6.1 million last year, making up a majority of the increase in total child poverty. Hispanics now comprise 37 percent of children in poverty, compared with 30 percent for whites and 27 percent for blacks.
Other census findings:
• About one in four families with children is headed by single mothers, a record. Among young families with a head of household younger than 30, the poverty rate jumped from 30 percent in 2007 to 37 percent. In contrast, poverty remained at a low 5.7 percent for families with a head of household 65 or older.
• The number of households receiving food stamps swelled by two million to 13.6 million, meaning that nearly one in eight receives the government aid. Among households receiving food stamps, more than half have children.
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