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Here's Exactly How Many College Graduates Live Back at Home

Jordan Weissmann

The unemployed college graduate moving back in with his parents has been one of the stock figures of the recession, making Millennials the "Boomerang Generation." But how many young grads are really shacking up with mom and dad (or aunt or uncle)? 

The number to remember is 45 percent. What share of recent college graduates were living with family in 2011? It's 45 percent. How much higher was that figure than in 2001? Also 45 percent. That's the conclusion from Census data crunched for The Atlantic by Pew economist Richard Fry, the author of a recent report on young adults and debt. It's bad -- about on par with the unfortunate results Pew found via a poll of young adults in 2012. But it's not as bad as the bogus 85 percent figure CNN, Time and The New York Post breathlessly reported last year.

So whether it's because of the economy, cultural changes, or a little bit of both, between 45 and 61 percent more young adults were living with their families after college in 2011 than in 2001, depending on which age range you look at. And as the chart shows, the boomerang effect is strong for young people, whether or not they went to college.

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