The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

30-something and still living at home? You’ve got lots (and lots) of company.

Michael Rotondo, left, sits during an eviction proceeding in Syracuse, N.Y., brought by his parents, Mark and Christina. The two parents speak to their lawyer, Anthony Adorante, in the court gallery to the right. (Douglass Dowty /Syracuse Newspapers/AP)
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A 30-year-old Upstate New York man was ordered to leave his parents' house by a state Supreme Court Justice on Tuesday after rebuffing several attempts by his parents to get him to move out.

The case of Michael Rotondo has made national and international news and has already become a butt of late-night talk show jokes. It seems to have struck a chord as an extreme example of a phenomenon demographers have been tracking for years: growing rates of young adults, particularly young men, living in their parents' homes even after graduation from high school and college.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2017, nearly one in five men ages 25 to 34 lived in their parents' home. That's a significantly higher share than the 12.5 percent of women that age living at home. Both numbers have increased dramatically in recent decades, roughly doubling since 1960.

In raw-number terms, there are 4.3 million men and 2.8 million women ages 25 to 34 living with their parents, for a total of 7.1 million still living at home. That population is approximately the size of the entire adult and child population of Arizona.

In 2016, the Pew Research Center noted that more young adults ages 18 to 34 were living with their parents than with a spouse or partner, the first time that's happened in at least 130 years. “This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35,” Pew's researchers noted.

The employment situation is another major factor. “The share of young men with jobs peaked around 1960 at 84%," according to Pew. “In 2014, only 71% of 18- to 34-year-old men were employed.” Partly as a result, median annual wages for young men plummeted over that period, from $27,300 (measured in 2013 dollars) in 1970 to around $15,000 in 2014.

As wages for young men have declined, rent has gone up in real terms. The result is that staying with mom and dad makes more financial sense than ever for many young men — even despite the social stigma often attached.

Financial difficulties appear to be part of the issue in Rotondo's case. Eviction letters from his parents offered money to help him get his own place, and alluded to the 30-year-old's “poor work history.” Rotondo has also told media outlets he is locked in a custody battle over a son of his own, from a woman he was never married to.

On those aspects, at least — a spotty employment history and a lack of a spouse — Rotondo looks a lot like many other members of his male generational cohort.