Earlier today I wrote about a surprising poll result showing strong support among younger Americans for tax cuts for all income levels, noting that this could be because of how hard younger Americans have been hit during the national recession.
At The Daily Best, Joel Kotkin expands on that, noting that the “millennial generation” may well be the screwed generation:
How has this generation been screwed? Let’s count the ways, starting with the economy. No generation has suffered more from the Great Recession than the young. Median net worth of people under 35, according to the U.S. Census, fell 37 percent between 2005 and 2010; those over 65 took only a 13 percent hit.
The wealth gap today between younger and older Americans now stands as the widest on record. The median net worth of households headed by someone 65 or older is $170,494, 42 percent higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger-age households is $3,662, down 68 percent from a quarter century ago, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.
The older generation, notes Pew, were “the beneficiaries of good timing” in everything from a strong economy to a long rise in housing prices. In contrast, quick prospects for improvement are dismal for the younger generation.
One key reason: their indebted parents are not leaving their jobs, forcing younger people to put careers on hold. Since 2008 the percentage of the workforce under 25 has dropped 13.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while that of people over 55 has risen by 7.6 percent.
“Employers are often replacing entry-level positions meant for graduates with people who have more experience because the pool of applicants is so much larger. Basically when unemployment goes up, it disenfranchises the younger generation because they are the least qualified,” observes Kyle Storms, a recent graduate from Chapman University in California.
Overall the young suffer stubbornly high unemployment rates—and an even higher incidence of underemployment. The unemployment rate for people between 18 and 29 is 12 percent in the U.S., nearly 50 percent above the national average. That’s a far cry from the fearsome 50 percent rate seen in Spain or Greece, or the 35 percent in Italy and 22 percent in France and the U.K., but well above the 8 percent rate in Germany.
Add to this sad economic reality the debt load younger Americans will carry into middle age and older, and I’m not just talking about the student loan crisis which, thanks to the government-inflated higher education bubble, has become a larger portion of household debt than credit cards.
The fiscal burden younger Americans are going to, increasingly, be asked to carry for entitlement behemoths like Social Security and Medicare are staggering and will only get worse as older generations retire and leave the work force. And then there’s the national debt. According to the most recent Treasury numbers, each taxpaying American owes $193,989.72 on the national debt, an amount that has increased roughly $64,000/taxpayer under President Obama.
This is the moral hazard entitlement programs, and the previous generations which supported them, have created for America’s youth. Older voters created vast government programs to provide them with entitlements and passed the bill on to following generations.
Well those generations are here, and the bill may be too large to pay.