Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that five million jobs lost during the pandemic have not been recovered, but it is difficult to ascertain how many workers will return to available jobs. The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey includes a detailed set of reasons for nonemployment, including households’ responses to the pandemic that provide a new perspective on reasons for not working.
In this Economic Commentary, we use the Current Population Survey to identify and examine the influx of young adults who moved in with their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic—the so-called boomerang kids—and how being in their family home influences their labor market decisions and sensitivity to occupational risk relative to that of other young adults. We find that most boomerang kids come from high-income families that can financially support them through nonemployment spells that are, on average, longer than those of young adults not living with their parents. Young adults living with their parents are also more responsive to the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and are less likely to work in occupations with high exposure risk.