This week, Generation Y(-me!?) were given yet another reason to feel sorry for themselves. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of 20- to 34-year-old Brits living at home with their parents has risen to a staggering 3.3million – an increase of a quarter since records began in 1996. ‘A further a sign of how the economic downturn has hit young people’, claimed one article in the Financial Times; a Guardian scribe lamented the fate of these pitiable ‘victims of rising house prices [and] a difficult job market’.
At first, it’s hard not to have sympathy for the so-called stay-at-home generation. The odds certainly appear stacked against them. Unemployment is at its highest among young people. More and more graduates leave university with degrees that count for little in the job market and are saddled with hefty debts for their trouble.
However, the fact of the matter is that while this certainly makes finally packing up your Meccano set and heading out on your own a bit harder – and perhaps more daunting – it most certainly doesn’t make it impossible. Another look at the figures and it becomes clear that there are plenty of young people who feasibly could move out and choose not to.
Staggeringly, of those twentysomethings still ensconced in their teenage bedrooms, only 13 per cent of them are unemployed. What’s more, contrary to all the brow-furrowing over malevolent zero-hours contracts and the scarceness of full-time employment, further statistics from the ONS state that of the roughly 30million people in work in the UK, barely a third work part-time.
The failings of the labour market are clear, but they come nowhere near to explaining away this phenomenon. Similarly, rents have undoubtedly been soaring – rising to a monthly average of £1,126 in London. But, believe it or not, there are places even poorly paid Londoners can afford – although it might *gasp* mean breaking out into the sprawling netherworld that lies beyond Zone 2.