Census: Raleigh’s Average Household Size Growing

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Boomerang students, lack of jobs, the high cost of elder care and growth in Hispanic households have reversed a decades-long tend of shrinking average household sizes, and Raleigh is no exception.

The average rental household size in Raleigh from the 2000 Census was 2.15, compared to 2.26 in the 2010 Census. Owner-occupied households grew only slightly larger, from 2000’s average of 2.43 to 2.44 today.

According to an Ad Age magazine special report, multi-generational households could include returning students, Hispanics, parents of older boomers and Gen-Xers who have moved them into their homes to avert high health care costs.

The percentage of young adults ages 19 to 29 who are living with their parents increased from 25 percent in 1980 to 34 percent in the late 2000s, according to Zhenchao Qian, an Ohio State sociology professor doing research for the United States 2010 Census Project.

Marilyn Gorman, who recently graduated from Meredith College, said her decision to move back home was “tough, but it is the only option, really. I did not get any full-time job offers anywhere, so I am having to move back home.”

Meredith graduate Marilyn Gorman packs up her dorm room to move home.

According to William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, the rise in Hispanic immigration is also a factor in growing household size.

“Many embrace living with in-laws and family even after they marry, and others are forced into those arrangements because of cost,” he said in an Associated Press article.

The number of households in Raleigh with non-relatives rose 101 percent compared to 2000, although the number of households with roomers or boarders declined by 10 percent and those with housemates or roommates fell by 12 percent.

In family households, the greatest increase was seen in the “parent” category, but in non-family households, “non relatives’ accounted for a 29 percent increase. In all households, the greatest growth – 64 percent – was seen in households holding four persons.

Of all factors – aging parents, rising healthcare prices, Hispanic housing difference and the economy – the economy is the most volatile and more apt to bring rapid change.

“As soon as I have enough money I’ll move into my own place or find a place to share with friends,” Gorman said. “I wouldn’t go in a room in an unsafe neighborhood or anything like that, but if you do have the option to live at home until you get a job or a pal gets a job, then you do what you have to do until your situation changes.”

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