Working Strategies: Land or Launch: Should 20 somethings be living at home?

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Amy Lindgren

Here’s a hot potato topic for your next dinner party: Should adult “kids” land back in their parents’ home in their 20s, or should they launch into living independently?

The statistics are a bit gummy, but most data indicate that about half of America’s 18-29-year-olds live in the family home, with another 11% of 29-34-year-olds still harboring in their childhood bedrooms. Depending on the data set, these numbers are the highest in 70 years, meaning that we could be seeing an evolution rather than a short-term trend.

So, what do you think: Good or bad idea to house these young adults in the family nest? Here are arguments for both sides.

Positive aspects of housing adult “kids”

Cost savings is the point most often raised in favor of young adults landing back at home. I’ve written more than once of a young client who lived at home and managed a fast-food restaurant for two years after graduation, completely erasing her $30,000 student loan. That early sacrifice let her then pursue her chosen field while still moving out on her own.

Depending on their goals, working adults living rent-free can save a chunk for retirement, put together a decent down payment for a house, pay cash for a car …the possibilities are nearly endless, assuming (a) the young adult is working and (b) he or she is actively saving the income.

Another positive aspect of living at home can be the sharing of responsibilities that parents would otherwise shoulder alone. With the young adult home, the parents can more freely go on vacations, for example. Or, adult children might babysit their younger siblings. In some families, the young adults contribute to expenses, easing the parents’ financial load.

One person who has been particularly vocal in her advocacy for adult kids living at home is Michelle Singletary, who writes about financial advice for the Washington Post. Here’s one that’s pertinent, but you may find yourself behind a paywall.

Unintended consequences of housing adult “kids”

It’s nearly impossible to counter the financial benefits of this arrangement — at least on paper. If the theory becomes reality and the young adults do work, do save their money, and do ease their parents’ burden, it truly is an ideal arrangement.

But this is a situation where the ideal might not happen very frequently, leading to unintended consequences. First, in order for the 20-somethings to best leverage the situation, expectations must be made clear — something that is quite difficult for some parents to do. Then, the rules must be followed and enforced — again, not easy.

So what happens when there are no expectations or they’re not followed? Pretty much what you’d expect: Kids who don’t get or keep jobs, because they don’t need the money; kids who do keep jobs but use their income for fun instead of goals; kids who become depressed and isolated because they’re not building professional relationships in the outside world.

The parents aren’t always faring well either. Some studies show 50% or more reporting financial struggles because they are supporting their adult children. These parents may forgo their own goals for retiring or downsizing a costly home, or may be dealing with the bad habits and overnight guests of their offspring.

Not surprisingly, the internet holds a number of conversation threads bemoaning the downsides of this arrangement. Click here for one that provides more space than most for individuals to describe their experiences.

And here’s what I think…

While acknowledging that this situation could work, I don’t see that as often as I’d like. In my career counseling, I’m frequently talking with parents who feel trapped by their adult kids’ continued presence in the family home. I also see young adults who struggle with their stay-at-home situation, sometimes from a lack of personal agency.

Understanding that families and individuals are different, my default setting is still going to be “launch.” If the young adult lives with roommates, uses an income-dependent loan repayment program (for student debt) and works full-time, in most cases they’ll be just fine. Truly, I promise you. And if not? Then they can move back home.

For those who need convincing, running the numbers might help. Rent is doable when split with others. And a modest income of even $10 an hour can be enough for basic expenses. This isn’t luxurious but that’s not the goal. In the end, there’s really no substitute for what can be gained in living as an adult, not as an adult “kid.”

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Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecareerservice.com.

Rinsing raw chicken? 7 food debates guaranteed to start an argument

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Sara Nelson (Associated Press)

Is that day-old rice safe to eat? Can your three-year-old clean up the cookie dough mixing bowl? And do you really need to keep butter in the fridge?

When the topic of food preparation is on the table, it seems like everyone has an opinion. If you’ve ever gotten into an argument about these controversial food practices, then keep reading for the science-based answers that will put the debates to a halt once and for all.

Does cooking really burn off all the alcohol?

Many recipes call for a splash of wine or a dash of liquor, but how much of that alcohol actually remains after cooking? The answer depends on the cooking method and time.

According to a study by the USDA, cooking can reduce the alcohol content, but it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. For instance, simmering a dish for 30 minutes can remove about 35% of the alcohol, while cooking for an hour can reduce it by around 25%.

Longer cooking times lead to further reduction, but trace amounts can still remain. Therefore, while the alcohol content significantly decreases, it’s not entirely cooked out, so be sure to consider this if serving to individuals who avoid alcohol.

How to safely enjoy leftover rice

Meal preppers rejoice: As long as you follow proper guidelines when preparing, storing and reheating, leftover rice is safe to eat the next day. Plus, picking the proper recipe will help you avoid your rice drying out overnight. Making fried rice is a great option, as is this creamy and filling wild rice mushroom soup.

The great raw cookie dough-bate

Baking cookies with your little one is a sweet way to help them foster a love of cooking at a young age. But when they beg you for a taste of raw cookie dough, do you have to say no?

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According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, eating raw cookie dough is never safe. Raw cookie dough usually contains raw flour and eggs, which can, in turn, contain germs that make people sick. To be on the safe side, you should never eat raw cookie dough and should follow the CDC’s guidelines for baking cookies safely.

Then again, in 2016, public health faculty member and expert in health risk communication Brian Zikmund-Fisher published a CNN article stating that he and his family eat raw cookie dough regularly. Zikmund-Fisher minimizes risk by using only pasteurized eggs and ensuring that his flour is not subject to any recall notices.

“Our goal is not to minimize all risk, no matter the cost,” Zikmund-Fisher wrote. “Our goal is to maximize life…Sometimes maximizing life means letting [people] enjoy some (carefully prepared) cookie dough without shame.”

Still not comfortable digging into raw dough? An edible cookie dough recipe without any flour or eggs might be your best bet.

Should tomatoes be kept in the refrigerator or on the counter?

Experts say storing whole tomatoes at room temperature is the best way to preserve their flavor and texture. But if you’re worried about tomatoes going bad, consider keeping them in the fridge for at least a few days.

Shruthi Baskaran-Makanju of Urban Farmie says, “During late summer, when I get a bountiful harvest of fresh tomatoes, I like to store them in the fridge, especially if they’re starting to look a bit past their peak!”

While tomatoes stored at room temperature are most flavorful when eaten fresh, refrigerated tomatoes are still excellent for cooking. “They do get mushy, but I’d rather have mushy tomatoes than spoiled ones,” Baskaran-Makanju confirms. A baked tomato dish, like these baked tomatoes with parmesan, is a great way to make use of a fridge overflowing with tomatoes.

Raw chicken: to rinse or not to rinse

Chicken sashimi may be taking the internet by storm, but the average home cook still needs to follow food safety principles when handling raw chicken. So, should you wash raw chicken before cooking it?

“While washing meat and poultry to remove dirt, slime, fat or blood may have been appropriate decades ago when many slaughtered and prepared their own food, the modern food safety system doesn’t require it,” the Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, of the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, explains.

In fact, according to the FSIS, washing raw meat and poultry can cause bacteria to spread onto other kitchen surfaces, utensils and foods through the process known as cross-contamination. So there you have it: rinsing raw chicken is unnecessary at best and unsafe at worst. Instead, follow the FSIS’ advice on properly handling raw meat and poultry.

Has your cheese got the blues?

For many cheeses, mold is a key part of the cheese-making process: French Roquefort, Camembert, Italian Gorgonzola and many others rely on molds to help them mature. But not all mold is your friend. If your previously yellow cheese is now sporting some new green or white developments, do you have to throw it away?

Leah Ingram of Bagels and Lasagna recalls, “A long time ago, a food expert I interviewed said that it is perfectly safe to cut mold off a hard cheese and continue to eat the rest. However, they said the same is not true with soft cheese, so that’s where we draw the line.”

The USDA confirms: “Discard any soft cheese showing mold. For hard cheese, such as cheddar, cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself). After trimming off the mold, the remaining cheese should be safe to eat. Re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap and keep refrigerated.”

Can you keep butter on the countertop?

Butter was invented long before the refrigerator, so it must be safe to store at room temperature, right? According to the USDA, butter is indeed safe at room temperature, but should not be left out for more than a day or two to avoid rancid flavors. Butter bells, a 16th-century invention, can help keep butter soft.

Looking for a way to use up extra butter in a hurry? These garlic butter chicken bites make for a speedy and irresistible dinner.

Don’t leave safety up to debate

Once upon a time, tomatoes were considered deadly poison and frogs were placed in milk containers to keep milk fresh. Today’s food practices may have changed slightly, but there’s still a lot of confusion out there when it comes to food safety.

And changing cooking habits isn’t easy. You might have a hard time convincing your grandma not to thaw meat on the countertop, for example. But, as anyone who’s experienced food poisoning knows, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So next time you’re deep in a food debate, look to government organizations like the USDA and CDC for guidance. Then, once you’ve settled things, you can move on to debating the really important questions. Pineapple on pizza , anyone?

Sara Nelson is the creator of Real Balanced, a food blog that showcases easy and balanced recipes. Since 2017, she has shared these recipes with thousands of readers and social media followers. Sara lives in Wisconsin with her family.

Joe Soucheray: Fraud after fraud, precious millions flushed, and precious little accountability in Minnesota

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Does Minnesota have a functioning state government?

The question cannot be unreasonable. Frauds appear and flourish like spring hostas. Food fraud. Frontline worker pay fraud. Medicaid fraud. Potential fraud in the sudden explosion of autism service providers.

The Feeding Our Future food fraud grows more spectacular with each new astonishment revealed in either court or in the legislative auditor’s report on the scandal. According to the legislative auditor’s findings, the food fraud in the fiscal year 2020-21 saw the Minnesota Department of Education’s payments to Feeding Our Future grow by 2,800 percent.

Warren Buffett couldn’t grow anything by 2,800 percent.

In dollars? From $69.6 million to $335.7 million.

That $335.7 million was for all Child and Adult Care Food Program sites across Minnesota. CACFP sites grew by 54 percent in the 2021 CACFP program year.

Ah, but Feeding Our Future CACFP sites more than tripled during the same time. The scam must have been the talk of the street. Vacant storefronts were suddenly said to be the base of operations for feeding thousands and thousands of kids, more kids supposedly fed than exist in Minnesota.

Payments didn’t cool off much in 2022, $320.4 million.

Legislative Auditor Judy Randall was not at all shy in her 121-page report. Inadequate oversight led to continuing opportunities for fraud. The scammers probably couldn’t believe their good luck. Nobody was questioning them! Off to the BMW dealership they went.

People were in charge, but apparently not functioning.

Heather Mueller was Gov. Tim Walz’s pick for education commissioner. Like Walz, Mueller began her career as a social studies teacher in Mankato. Walz appointed her in April 2021. By November 2022, when food fraud money was pouring out of the building and the scandal gaining traction, she resigned. She refused interviews.

Dr. Heather Mueller is listed as a senior consultant at Teamworks Education Leadership Solutions where she is a “skilled leader and strategic thinker.”

OK.

Mueller has been succeeded by Willie Jett, who quickly understood the lay of the land. When Jett was questioned about the legislative auditor’s report, he said, “you’re not gonna hear me place the blame.” He would not say if any Department of Education employees had been disciplined.

“To say we need to come here and place blame or highlight who misstepped,” Jett said, “that’s not right.”

To which the taxpayers of Minnesota say, “Why not?”

Neither Walz nor his people have exhibited any accountability or responsibility for the disappearance of so much money on their watch, with more yet to come as new scandals unfold. Walz did say he “accepts some responsibility for oversight,” but then quickly shifted to meaningless boilerplate babble … “We can always do better … I appreciate the points being made … context matters.”

All meaningless and deflecting.

Nothing suggests Walz and other high-ranking officials should be impeached, as the state constitution allows. They probably did not line their own pockets.

But they certainly have answered the question. Minnesota does not have a functioning state government.

Joe Soucheray can be reached at jsoucheray@pioneerpress.com. Soucheray’s “Garage Logic” podcast can be heard at garagelogic.com.

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Minnesota loses 8,600 net jobs in May, unemployment rises to 2.8%

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After several months of job growth, Minnesota employers pulled back in May, with the state losing 8,600 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development said in a release Friday. The state’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.8%.

Minnesota has gained jobs nine out of the past 12 months.

DEED also noted the state labor force participation rate remained at 68% in May. This measures the portion of the population either working or actively seeking work and is used to calculate the headline unemployment rate.

“We’ll be keeping a close eye on job and labor force growth. We continue to believe that job growth, particularly in certain sectors, is constrained by a lack of available workers with necessary skills,” said DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek in the release. “DEED and our agency partners continue to reach out to Minnesotans looking for work to help them prepare for in-demand employment.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point to 4% in May.

Minnesota’s private sector lost 9,800 jobs, down 0.4% over the month. Sectors in Minnesota that gained jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis included Education & Health Services, up 2,800 jobs, and Government up 1,200 jobs. Four sectors in Minnesota lost jobs over the month, including Professional & Business Services, down 9,300 jobs, and Manufacturing down 3,700 jobs.

Minnesota wage growth is outpacing inflation as well as national wage growth, DEED said. Average hourly wages for all private sector workers in Minnesota increased 14 cents, to $37.12, in May. Over the year average hourly earnings increased $1.92, up 5.5%. The Consumer Price Index, a common measure of inflation, rose 3.3% over the year in May.

So far year, Minnesota has gained 34,950 payroll jobs, up 1.2%. Minnesota’s private sector gained 12,079 jobs, up 0.5%. Overall U.S. employment grew 1.8% over the year with the private sector up 1.6%.

By race, the unemployment rate for Black Minnesotans in May was 3.9%; for Hispanics 3.6%; white Minnesotans 2.5%; Asians 1.9%, and Native American Minnesotans 8.3%.

A broader measure of joblessness, called the U-6, was 5.4% in May, unchanged from April. This measure factors in people who have voluntarily left the labor force, are not actively seeking work, are underemployed, marginally employed or working part-time while seeking full-time employment.

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