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Staggering unemployment levels take toll on young Americans

In an article found in this morning's Wall Street Journal, Princeton University's Katherine Newman delivers one of the most disturbing quotes that I have read in a long time: 

We may have well given up on the idea that our kids will do better than us, but the idea that they should do as well, that's something we haven't given up on yet.

Professor Newman's quote isn't troublesome because it is untrue.  It is troublesome because I, like most Americans, never thought that this country would reach the point that parents no longer foresee a brighter, more prosperous future for their children.  But, with unemployment remaining up near 10 percent and dependence upon government growing by the day, it now seems that the best future that many Americans can envision involves stagnant or even downward mobility. 

More upsetting than the fact that parents have "given up on the idea that our kids will do better than us" are the statistics that seem to support this glum view.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March 2010 the unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 29 was 15.2%, the highest rate since 1948.  In that same month, there were a total of 2.3 million unemployed college graduates.  That is 1.45 million more than in March 2007.  And those seeking work have been unable to find it.  The average length of unemployment, 31 weeks, is also the highest it has been since 1948.  

In addition, these young adults are being hurt by the fact their parents are struggling financially.  According to the Journal:

[E]conomists worry that without parental cash, young adults may put off entering the housing market, settling into career paths and having families.

These worries seem to be well founded as the U.S. Census reports that the rate of home ownership among Americans ages 25 to 29 fell from 42% in 2006 to 37.7% last year and home ownership for those under 25 fell from 26 % in 2005 to 23.3%.

The Journal continues:

Some 22% of young people between the ages of 18 and 34 said they've been turned down for a mortgage, loan or credit card in the past year, according to a February survey from, a legal marketing and information site. That's double the percentage of any other age group in its survey.

As a result, many young people are now moving home to save on rent. About 21% of young adults say they've either moved in with a friend or relative, or had a friend or relative move in with them because of the economy, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

These figures are astounding.  But rather than focus its attention on the plight of those just entering the workforce, the Obama White House recently forced through a health care bill which will hurt, not help, the next generation of workers.  The Associated Press recently reported that new analysis by Rand Health projects that premiums for young adults could rise as much as 17 percent under the new law. 

According to the Heritage Foundation:

The 17 percent premium hike predicted by Rand translates into $300-$500 premium increases for young adults.  Other studies suggest even steeper price hikes.  Jim O’Connor, of the consulting firm Milliman, Inc., predicts increases between 10 and 30 percent.  ShoutAmerica, a Tennessee nonprofit, predicts increases as high as 50 percent.

With the Obama Administration pushing legislation that adds burden onto those already suffering from joblessness, it is no surprise that some are throwing in the towel and giving up on "the idea that our kids will do better than us."