Overlooking the rivers in Pittsburgh

More than in any other major Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh’s young adults are living on their own instead of moving in with mom and dad.

Pittsburgh ranked 13th out of America’s 600 largest cities for the percentage of young adults aged 18 to 34 living alone, according to new data released Thursday in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-year American Community Survey. Pittsburgh also ranked 45th in terms of the percentage of young adults living with roommates.

The breakdown in Pittsburgh: 29 percent live with roommates, 17.5 percent live alone, 17 percent live with their spouse, 16.5 percent live with parents, 11.5 percent live with an unmarried partner and 8.5 percent live with relatives other than their parents.

In this data set, Pittsburgh looks a lot like Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore. Those cities have similarly high numbers of young adults living with roommates combined with high numbers of people living alone and low numbers of people living with their parents.

One possible explanation is that Pittsburgh’s college students are skewing the data. While students living in dorms aren’t counted, those who live in apartments or in off-campus housing are included and they may be substantially contributing to Pittsburgh’s young population living alone or with roommates.

All the top places with a high proportion of people living with roommates were dominated by college towns, including Davis, Calif. (University of California-Davis); Bloomington, Ind. (University of Indiana); and Boulder, Colo. (University of Colorado).

Because Pittsburgh ranks highly in the percentage of young people living alone, it’s conceivable that the city’s affordability could lend itself to more people living alone than taking in roommates.

Not many young adults in Pittsburgh live with their parents compared to the rest of Pennsylvania’s large cities and the nation. Reading (37 percent), Scranton (35 percent), Philadelphia (34 percent), Erie (31 percent), Allentown (31 percent) and Bethlehem (30 percent) were all near the national average of 34.1 percent.

College towns also typically had very low percentages of young adults living with their parents.

Young people may choose to live with their parents because finding an apartment is too expensive. That could explain why expensive states surrounding New York City (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) were the three states with the highest percentage of young adults living with their parents. Nearly 47 percent of young adults in New Jersey lived at home, followed by 42 percent in Connecticut and 41 percent in New York.

Previously, living arrangement data had only been available on the national and regional levels. Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center said more young adults nationwide were living with their parents than with a spouse or partner. It was the first time that had been true in more than 130 years.

Reach Eric Holmberg at 412-515-0064 or at eholmberg@publicsource.org. Follow him on Twitter @holmberges.

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