More millennials are leaving the nest to form their own households

Tim Henderson, on

Published in Business News

From 2016 to 2021, nearly every state saw a spike in the number of young adults between the ages of 25 and 44 forming new households, a development with far-reaching implications for state populations, economic growth and infrastructure.

For many millennials, the economic fallout of the Great Recession a decade and a half ago postponed what for many is a major milestone: leaving their parents’ house or housing shared with roommates to form their own household. But millennials began striking out on their own at a rapid clip starting about seven years ago, according to a new Stateline analysis of census data from the American Community Survey.

For some couples, setting up a household feels like a prerequisite for having children. Housing purchases fuel housing construction. And when people buy furniture, appliances and the countless other items needed to keep a home, those purchases support sales and jobs in manufacturing and retail.

However, high housing prices and rising interest rates in the past year might be cooling the trend.

Florida and New Jersey were among the states that saw big increases in young households between 2016 and 2021 as many millennials reached their 30s.

New England states, where births to 30-something parents have been booming, also saw some of the biggest increases in households headed by people ages 25-44, compared with the previous five-year period, 2011-2016.


“We saw just a massive return to New Jersey in 2020 and 2021. Millennials had been fleeing the state for New York City and downtown Philadelphia, but they found that living in a shoebox in Brooklyn was not very attractive when there’s a pandemic, and you’re raising children,” said James Hughes, a professor of urban planning at Rutgers University.

In New Jersey, the number of households headed by people ages 25-44 grew 13% between 2016 and 2021, after shrinking 7% between 2011 and 2016. Households are defined as any single person or group living together, including families and couples.

The number of Maine households headed by millennials grew 21% between 2016 and 2021, after shrinking 12% the previous five years. In Florida, the growth rate was 18% after no growth in the previous five years.

An analysis released last month by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found the biggest growth in new millennial-headed households occurred between 2019 and 2021, contributing to high demand for housing that drove up home prices and rents.


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