News Flash for the Left: Young People Matter and Your Big-Government Policies Hurt Us

The Pew Research Center recently produced statistics indicating that young adults are living in their parents’ home in increasing numbers.  The numbers should concern young adults (young men specifically), their parents and every Americans because they are a prism through which we can see the degradation of our society that results from big-government policies. What’s causing young people to decide to live at home?  Employment and marriage are on the decline and college enrollment is on the rise.

To be clear, college enrollment can be a good thing, but if the decision to attend college is made because of the inability to find employment, it could simply be a means of racking up debt.  Indeed, student loan debt totals nearly $1 trillion, double what it was in 2007.   Unemployment and underemployment are hurting young people and the culture of delaying marriage has demonstrable negative effects on them as well.

We have already noted that big-government policies are directly harming young people, and we outlined the ways Obamacare and Social Security are dragging them down.  But these policies are also harming the economy, and those getting hit the hardest are our young people. 

Heritage notes:

Unemployment is devastating America’s young adults. One in every eight Americans aged 18 to 29 years is unemployed. Inflation-adjusted starting wages for college graduates have remained essentially flat since 2008. As the number of college graduates has gone up, the number of jobs has gone down. Vast numbers of highly educated young people are either not utilizing their education or not working at all.

The irony is exquisite. Young people claim to want nothing more than freedom and independence. Yet many now live with their parents because they can’t find a good job. (emphasis added) These are the same people Mr. Obama pandered to by insisting they be covered by their parents’ health insurance. They may enjoy that benefit, but the net effect of Obamacare and other liberal policies is high unemployment that only increases their dependence on their parents.

Stuck in their childhood bedrooms decorated with posters about “Hope and Change,” many young people today watch their career-forming years pass by.

Sadly, it’s August of 2013, and the numbers are telling the same story.

Pew Research demonstrates:

In 2012, 36% of the nation’s young adults ages 18 to 31—the so-called Millennial generation—were living in their parents’ home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This is the highest share in at least four decades and represents a slow but steady increase over the 32% of their same-aged counterparts who were living at home prior to the Great Recession in 2007 and the 34% doing so when it officially ended in 2009.

A record total of 21.6 million Millennials lived in their parents’ home in 2012, up from 18.5 million of their same aged counterparts in 2007. Of these, at least a third and perhaps as many as half are college students. 

Younger Millennials (ages 18 to 24) are much more likely than older ones (ages 25 to 31) to be living with their parents—56% versus 16%. Since the onset of the 2007-2009 recession, both age groups have experienced a rise in this living arrangement.

The men of the Millennial generation are more likely than the women to be living with their parents—40% versus 32%—continuing a long-term gender gap in the share of young adults who do so.1

Living with one’s parents is not inherently bad, of course.  One could choose to do so to assist a sick parent, and there could be a myriad of other reasons for doing so.  What is disconcerting, however, is when young people in increasing numbers are forced to do so because of poor economic circumstances and the inability to find employment.

And, as Pew also demonstrates, the latter is the case:

In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007. In 2012, unemployed Millennials were much more likely than employed Millennials to be living with their parents (45% versus 29%).

Pew also shows that rising college enrollment is partly responsible for the rising numbers of Millennials living at home:

In March 2012, 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, up from 35% in March 2007. Among 18 to 24 year olds, those enrolled in college were much more likely than those not in college to be living at home – 66% versus 50%.

In 2012, during the slow post-recession recovery, Heritage’s James Sherk explained that the increase in school enrollment was at least partly responsible for labor force participation falling.  Remember, higher school enrollment also “reflect[s] the difficulty of finding work.”

From footing the bill for Obamacare, to having difficulty finding a job and delaying career opportunities, to having their retirement put in jeopardy, big-government policies are doing damage to the younger generation.  How long will it take for young people and their families to undo the damage?

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