For years, journalists and analysts have blamed young people for holding back the economic recovery. Get ready for that story to change.
Young people are the lazy, smelly scapegoat of the recession. They're not working, they're living at home, they're constantly complaining about their debt, they're not buying cars or houses, and they're not even having babies.
But there is an outside chance that The Twentysomething, the media's favorite economic whipping boy, is poised to become the hero of the recovery, and it all comes down to two words. Household formation.
In the last four years, millions of young people who otherwise would be starting families and independent lives have waited out the recession in the cozy bunker of their parents' basement. One in three twentysomethings reported moving back in with their parents for an extended period of time, according to a 2011 Pew report. Some went back to school. Some worked. Some did nothing.
Whatever they were doing, they weren't moving out or starting new "households." Technically speaking, a "household" is
any group of people living together: six roommates, a young couple, a
family with kids, anything. By delaying their adulthood, these basement-dwellers were -- through no fault of their own -- holding back the economy by holding back household formation. But economists are increasingly confident that this generation is ready to migrate into the real economy.