Living Arrangements for Young Adults:

Living with a roommate, child or partner

• 1968-5.5 percent

• 2012-26 percent

Living Alone

• 1968- 4 percent

• 2012 - 7 percent

Living with Parents

• 1968-32 percent

• 2012- 36 percent

• Living with Spouse/Married

• 1968- 56 percent

• 2012 - 23 percent

Source: Pew Research

Robert Modrall wanted to work in a nonprofit organization.

So he has amassed $50,000 in education debt and compiled an impressive list of volunteer experiences. To name a few: the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the Siskin Children's Institute, Chattanooga's Kids on the Block, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, American Lung Association, Salvation Army, Friends of the Festival, North Georgia Pediatric Therapies and the Chattanooga Zoo.

To this end, he's cared for the mentally ill. He's fed the hungry. He's spent time with the elderly and disabled. Since November, he's logged more than 850 volunteer hours. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix. He's started his graduate degree online. But he can't seem to get where he wants to go - out of his parent's house in rural Ringgold, Ga., and into a real job.

He's 30, struggling to launch, sleeping in the same room he grew up in, still eating dinners with his mom and dad almost every night, and he's not alone.

Last year, a record 21.6 million American young adults were living at home with their parents. That is 36 percent of the 18- to 31-year-old population, according to a Pew Research analysis of Census Bureau data recently released.

And many of these millennial homebodies are like Modrall. Forty percent are men. Sixty-one percent either have some college or have finished their four-year degree. Forty-five percent are unemployed, the Pew data shows.

"If something were to happen to mom and dad, I would feel on the verge of homelessness," Modrall said.

The reason for this, experts say, is a convergence of economic and social shifts that are changing the landscape of 20- and 30-something life in America.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, professional placement continues to be fiercely competitive. Last year, 63 percent of 18-to-31-year-olds had jobs, a decrease from 2007 when 70 percent of the same age group were earning a living, according to Pew.

Job prospects are improving, but sluggishly.

"Because the economy has been so slow to recover, you have people that graduated a few years ago that aren't in the job of their choice competing with the ones that just got out [0f college]," said Jean Dake, director of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Career and Student Employment Center.

Plus, more people are enrolled in college and fewer millennials are getting married.

"Today's unmarried millennials are much more likely than married millennials to be living with their parents (47 percent versus 3 percent)," the analysis read.

Living at home has cost him a lot, Modrall said. A love life. A social life.

"There is a lot of stuff I miss out on," he said.

But it's not all bad. At the end of a long day, his family takes their shoes off and watches a movie together or works in the yard until sunset.

He found some part-time work as a lot associate at Home Depot, but the pay doesn't even cover his loan payments. He said managers told him that they are reluctant to hire anyone full time because of coming changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act. To delay his bills, he signed up for graduate school.

In the meantime, he scours the Tennessee Department of Labor Web site. He checks with Amazon, BlueCross BlueShield, Unum, Volkswagen.

"It's a little daunting at times," Modrall said. "All I know to do is keep on keeping on and putting one foot in front of the other."

Contact Joan McClane at or 423-757-6601.