Unemployment among 16 to 19 year olds who are in the labor force runs 22%. Slightly older 20 to 24 year olds face 12.8% unemployment. Unemployment plummets to 6.6% for 25 to 54 year olds of whom 81% are in the labor force. Among the employed are 7.9 million working part time who’d rather be working full time. Job candidates with advanced skills can usually find a job, but often the skills take years of work or college to develop.
Students taking the college route to employability face high tuition and a tough job market upon graduation. Average student debt for a recent graduate is $26,600, a heavy millstone. Those successful in the job market will quickly get a car loan and possibly a home mortgage, another hefty bite out of their take home pay. Successful or not, most young Americans get one or more credit cards. Typically, they run up a balance higher than their parents did. They pay off the credit card slower. Far in the future, they are likely to die still owing money on the cards. There are effective ways to pay off credit card debt, but they require discipline and inconvenience.
Our national leaders are no role model – they are unbridled consumers. They gleefully ran up the national debt to $16.4 trillion. In comparison, state leaders are misers with only $2.8 billion in debt – rounding error. Oh but wait — most states are prohibited from deficit spending. Our national leaders have given up on actually paying off the debt. Instead, they use the slovenly conceit of a 10-year span in which they reduce the rate of increase in deficit spending. They hope we we’re too dumb to understand their fiscal 3-card Monte.
Our national leaders are brutal on younger Americans’ hope for the future, casting gloom in every economic direction that government controls. Younger Americans are told they’ll have to settle for ever-higher income taxes, higher eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare, lower chained-COLAs for Social Security, higher Obamacare premiums, and much higher interest rates, as soon as the Fed brings unemployment down to 6.5%. The specter of higher interest rates should scare the grin off everyone who has credit card debt, a car loan, a mortgage and a student loan.
Somehow, younger Americans don’t seem to notice the gloom gathering over their future. Young Americans are either not paying attention, have given up hope, or think they’ll find a fountain of youth. I hope they start paying attention.
Alan Daley is a retired businessman living in Florida and following public policy issues from a consumer’s perspective.