Jobless and Searching for Meaning, Millennials Flock to Mom and Dad's House

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Millennials, more so than previous generations, have been forced to move home with their parents as they struggle with unemployment and job satisfaction, according to a new study.

Sixteen percent of millennials who have started their careers live at home due to financial hardship, and another 12 percent have moved home at least once in the past for the same reason, according to a new study by salary data company PayScale and consulting firm Millennial Branding. By comparison, only 8 percent of Gen Xers and 3 percent of baby boomers report having moved home in the past as a result of financial problems.

“Professionally and dating-wise, it really delays growing up,” says Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel.

However, with the U.S. unemployment rate at 7.2 percent and millennial unemployment estimated at 15.9 percent, many young Americans do not have any other options. Median pay for millennials is $40,700, compared to $55,100 for Gen Xers and $56,400 for baby boomers.

Related: Latest Employment Report Shows College Still Counts

The study defines millennials as those born between 1982 and 2002, and Gen Xers as those born between 1965 and 1981. Baby boomers are identified as those born between 1946 and 1964.

While millennials' return to the nest can be partially explained by the lousy job market, it's also related to job satisfaction. Individuals beginning their careers have always had to balance economic security against job satisfaction and meaning. The biggest difference for millennials appears to be the willingness, or necessity, to sacrifice the personal independence of living alone to pursue a job that provides meaning and satisfaction.

In a 2012 study by Net Impact, 72 percent of students, as opposed to 53 percent of workers, said having “a job where I can make an impact” was very important or essential to their happiness. Another recent study found that 71 percent of millennials want to see coworkers as their “second family.” 

Related: Millennials Are Snubbing the Corporate World for Entrepreneurship (Infographic)

Despite this, Gen Y was the least likely to feel their job was meaningful, with 49 percent reporting high job meaning, according to the Payscale and Millennial Branding study. Comparably, 55 percent of Gen Xers and 65 percent of baby boomers found strong meaning in their work. 

In the same vein, only 66 percent of millennials reported high job satisfaction, compared with 72 percent among Gen Xers and 78 percent of baby boomers.

Schawbel reports that millennials often choose meaningful labor over economic payoff. However, the security to sacrifice money for meaning leaves millennials looking to make up the cash somehow – often in rent or car ownership.

“The economy has delayed their careers and their personal independence and forced then to work harder than previous generations just to catch up,” says Schawbel. “They are taking on multiple jobs to pay back student loans and being forced to create their own careers instead of relying on companies to do it for them.” 

Related: Millennial Managers Seen as 'Entitled'

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