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Even in affordable Pittsburgh, still living at home — struggling with debt, limited options

Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Home and Consumer News

"That's what's so hard for me being at home is that I love being a teacher," she said. "I'm so passionate about it. I love making learning fun. But I can't find a job and I don't want to be a substitute. You don't have that same relationship with the students as you do in your own classes."

Three years ago, her sister got married and moved back to Pittsburgh to start a family. Steiner began to grow homesick. The mortgage on her condo cost $1,050 a month, plus a $250 monthly homeowners association fee.

She earned $55,000 a year as a teacher, but still needed to work an occasional babysitting job to meet all of her housing expenses, a car note and student loan payments.

Jim Meredith, executive vice president at the Hefren-Tillotson financial services firm in Pittsburgh, said boomerang kids may not be just a temporary phenomenon. They could be part of a new and permanent life stage.

"The trend is very strong because of the incredible burden of school debt," Meredith said. "If you graduate with $140,000 in debt for a liberal arts degree and end up working a job that does not require a degree, you have wasted your money.

"Unfortunately, more people with a liberal arts degree or humanities degree do not have an employable skill in today's job market," he said. "When the student loan payments hit, it's a crushing burden."

Paul Brahim, CEO of BPU Investment Management, said there is a legitimate argument that young adults from the millennial generation have a difficult time finding meaningful work with reasonable compensation here in Pittsburgh and across the nation.

"Baby boomers are delaying retirement largely due to the financial crisis they weren't prepared for and they have to work longer," Brahim said.

The year 2014, according to the most recent Pew study on boomerang kids, was a high-water mark in the unfolding living arrangements of young adults in America. For the first time since 1880, adults age 18 to 34 became more likely to be living with a parent than to be living on their own or with a romantic partner in their own household.

In 2014, about 32.1 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds lived in their parents' home, with 31.6 percent married or cohabiting and living in their own separate dwelling. Before that, the most common living arrangement for young adults was to be in a romantic coupling (either married or cohabiting) in their own household.

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