Boomerang kids at highest level in 40 years


Demographers tell us that boomerang kids — adult children who move back home after getting out of school or because they can’t find work — are at the highest numbers in U.S. history going back 40 years. More than one third of young adults are now living back at home with parents. That’s 22 million boomerang kids. Here’s a story about just one of them.

It’s Saturday morning at the Bonilla household in Glendale Heights, Ill., and the TV is showing highlights from last night’s soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Maria Bonilla, 51, is making scrambled eggs, toast, and quesadillas. Like many Mexican-American women her age, she’s the foundation of her family and she works tirelessly inside the home but never out of it.

Her husband Eli, 60, sits enjoying a plate of frijoles and Mexican rice along with his daily coffee before he’s off to work.  He recently retired from three decades as a construction worker pouring concrete. Now he works part-time at a Nissan dealership because he’s too bored to just sit around and who couldn’t use the extra money? 

Meanwhile, the couple’s 24-year-old son Cesar is enrapt in the game highlights.

Come Saturday night, Cesar will take the field himself at a nearby indoor soccer arena. He wears a turquoise blue jersey and squishes the synthetic turf beneath his cleats playing mid-field for a local team modeled after Barcelona. It’s one of several soccer clubs he’s a part of.

Soccer—or fútbol as it’s called by Spanish speakers—is the core of Cesar’s weekends and he’s played since the age of seven. Because he lives at home, he’s able to tow mom and dad to his games. His 20-year-old sister Jeanette comes along too sometimes when she’s back on the weekends from college.

“I usually have games Friday-Sunday,” Cesar says. “By living at home, I’m able to bring my parents with me to my games and often go out to eat afterwards.”

Cesar is among a generation of boomerang kids—as adult child go out to college, graduate from school, and make a roundtrip right back home typically because they can’t find a job. It’s become a common phenomenon since the Great Recession

Only in his case, Cesar isn’t wanting for good work or good pay.


He graduated from Northern Illinois University in May 2011 and began working five months later in October 20011 at public accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in downtown Chicago.

While his father Eli labored for decades with finishing trowels and premium high strength alloy screeds to smooth poured concrete, the tools of Cesar’s trade are Excel spreadsheets and ProSystem fx tax software for CPAs.

Cesar earns about $60,000 doing tax compliance for corporations and wealthy individuals.

So why is he living at home? This is not a case of a failure to launch. Rather, it’s smart and strategic planning, the kind of delayed gratification that can lead to scored goals on the soccer field or money in the bank…

Read more of Cesar’s story in Clark Howard’s Living Large for the Long Haul

  • Show Comments Hide Comments