Without More Investment in the Young, Middle Class Could Disappear
Written by Adele Stan, AFL-CIO
In ďThe State of Young America: The Databook,Ē the economic experts at Demos demonstrate that by virtually every measure, the fortunes of Americaís young people are falling under a deluge of debt, shrinking opportunity, rising costs of living and lack of access to health care. Writing with members of the Young Invincibles think tank, the authors write:
The path that each young person takes during their young adulthood often largely determines whether they end up in the middle class as older adults. Given the nationís current anemic levels of investment in young people, the existence of our future middle class is severely imperiled.
The Databook looks at the well-being of 18- to 34-year-olds across the span of a generation in†such areas as income, higher education and family life. Notable among the findings is that as the business environment became increasingly hostile to unionization, the fortunes of young people fell. Today, the Databook tells us, only 10 percent of young people have union representation, compared with 20 percent in 1980. Consequently,†with few exceptions, only those who have attained a bachelorís degree have seen their incomes rise over the course of the past three decades. (Once exception would be those who find their way into a trade union apprenticeship.)
Among the reportís findings:
- 41.3 percent of 25-34 year-old households spend more than 30 percent†of their income on rent.
- Levels of credit card debt among those ages 25 to 34 have risen 81 percent†since 1989, to an average of $6,255 in 2007.
- Just 11 percent†of all workers had access to paid family leave benefits.
- Child care fees for two children exceeded annual median rent payments.
- Average tuition is three times higher today than in 1980
The student loan default rate rose 31% over just 2 years.
- In only 10 years, employer-sponsored insurance dropped by 12.8 percent for workers 18-24 and 8.5 percent†for workers 25-34.
This post was originally published by the AFL-CIO blog.
Photo from Demos analysis of American community survey