America / Economy / Education / Politics

How the Economy is Affecting the Millennial Generation

Policy issue areas for the college-aged (Millennial) generation:

1. The National Budget

2. Growing National Debt

3. Entitlement Programs

4. Great Recession

General Background Information:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials face unemployment rates above 25% and are still searching for the return on educational investments
  • Fully 55% of those ages 18 to 24 say young adults are having the toughest time in today’s economy
    • Great Recession had a more severe impact on the earnings of young adults than that any other age group
    • Congressional Budget Office estimates that entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) will go from 10.4% to 16.5% of the economy in the next 25 years – a growing proportion that is growing rapidly with the aging baby boomers and advances in life expectancies for the over-65 age set

The Economy

“Strong majorities of all adults say it’s harder for today’s young people than it was for their parents to find a job (82%); save for the future (75%); pay for college (71%); or buy a home (69%). In some cases, middle-aged and older adults are even more likely than their younger counterparts to say today’s young people have it harder.”

– PEW Research, “Young, Underemployed and Optimistic (2012)

Source: file://localhost/Users/alliegreiwe/Documents/UAction/SDT-Youth-and-Economy.pdf

The fact of the matter is, in economic terms, young people have it harder than their parents did.

There is an intense anxiety among Millennials about the economy; from ability to meet current bills/finance obligations, affording a place to live, ability to pay for college (including paying of student loans), and finding a job – or career.

Problems young Americans face in association with the economy:

  • Go back to school because of the tough economy/job market (increase in student debt)
  • Fewer young adults on the job market today because of increased high school and college enrollment
  • Shifting societal norms about when “adulthood” begins (getting married and having children later due to concerns about financial stability)
  • Taking a job one doesn’t want just to pay the bills
  • Taking an unpaid job to gain work experience
  • Affects coming-of-age decisions
  • Move back in with parents after living independently to save
  • Concern over if enough money will be made to support life one wants to live
  • Drop in weekly earnings
  • Decline in youthful optimism

Goals Based Upon Policy Areas:

  1. Cut government spending and either keep taxes at the current rates or cut them (depending on the situation) to have private sector expand more than the public sector
  2. Reform entitlement programs – they comprise 60% of spending and are on track to increase
  3. Social Security is the most important thing that bipartisan Senators could address for it directly affects the deficit
  4. Enforce a simpler tax code with fewer loopholes that taxes a broader range of income at lower rates that could encourage investment and hasten economic growth – this appeals to both the left and right
All in all, the Great Recession has affected wages, retirement savings (Social Security), homes values, debt, etc – but public attitudes about future earning potential have remained remarkably stable, possibly indicating that optimism is related more to the stage of life than to the dynamics of the national economy. 

– Allie Greiwe







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