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Failure to Launch: Millennials Struggling with Adulthood

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A new census report painted a rather grim picture of millennials as they make their transition into adulthood. You might call it a failure to launch. American 20-something-year-olds  face low wages and high debt levels, and many are struggling to make it on their own.

According to the government report, in 2015 one-third of young adults (about 24 million) in the US lived with their parents. “While 81 percent of those who live at home are either working or going to school, one in four between 25 to 34 are ‘idle, meaning they are not in school and do not work,'” the report said.

An NBC report focused on the wage problem millennials face. Simply put, they can’t find decent paying jobs. The census report corroborates the issue, revealing the extent of the wage problem, especially for young men:

“In 1975, only 25% of men aged 25 to 34 had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41% of young men.”

The findings stand in stark contrast to the employment news the mainstream media constantly feeds the public. Based on the numbers, the jobs market is healthy. Young people entering the workforce should have no problem finding work. But Peter Schiff has been saying for months that most of the jobs being created are low-paying, service jobs, not jobs that you can build a life around:

“We’re not creating the type of jobs that will make America great again. In fact, if you look at the higher paying jobs in manufacturing, mining, logging, things like that: these jobs are barely adding any workers if not losing workers.”

The difficulties millennials face in the job market reinforce Peter’s point and make it pretty clear the employment picture isn’t nearly as rosy as some government officials and mainstream talking heads want you to think.

Millennial struggles also underscore another problem generally brushed under the rug. The cost of living is increasing. In the real world, things are getting more and more expensive, despite talk of low inflation, and Federal Reserve hand-wringing about hitting its 2% inflation target.

But with all of its focus on jobs, wages and expenses, the NBC report omits one of the most significant millennials face – student loan debt. It gets a brief mention in passing, but NBC never focused on this millstone hanging around the necks of most millennials:

“After getting a bachelor’s and master’s degree, 27-year-old Yvonne Juris also didn’t expect to be unemployed and living with her parents. Two years out of school, she hasn’t been able to find a job that would cover her basic bills, which includes a hefty student loan payment, she said.”

There, in a nutshell, we see the crux of the problem. Juris likely spent upwards of six figures on an education, and she’s still not employable.

Student loan debt has reached over $1.4 trillion according to the student loan debt clock. That breaks down to nearly $4,000 for every person in the US. Education loans are now the number two source of consumer debt, second only to mortgages. According to a Wall Street Journal article, 70% of college graduates last May entered the workforce with student loans to repay. The average owed comes in at $37,172.

That’s a huge burden on young people trying to launch into adulthood, and it’s having a massive trickle-down effect on the economy.

As we reported last fall, student loan debt has already impacted the housing market. A study by American Student Assistance and the National Association of Realtors found 71% of those with student loan debt cited that burden as the main factor for delaying a home purchase.

The growing burden of student loans is even impacting the parents of millennials. According to a MarketWatch report, more and more parents are having to step in to help their kids with student loan repayment. In fact, a record number – more than 60% – say they are considering helping their children with college debt. This could ultimately put their retirements in jeopardy.

And for what? A useless degree and no job prospects. America has a glut of highly educated bartenders and retail clerks.

This is another prime example of government central planning gone awry. It created policies to encourage Americans to go to college and threw billions of dollars in easy money at them. As a result, we have skyrocketing education costs and the devaluation of a college degree.

It’s easy to slam millennials for their failure to launch, but in truth, their struggles really just reflect more general problems in the broader economy. Government central planning and Fed monetary policy have littered the economy with debt and unsustainable bubbles. We see the impacts more clearly in the millennial generation, but their struggles are a bad omen for all of us.

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