Generation Debt

Young, Educated, Indebted

Millennials are defined as the generation born between 1981 and 1996. They are the most educated generation in history with thirty-six percent possessing a college degree. With this education has come an alarming issue-student debt. In order to finance their education, many millennials have gone into debt with student loans. This was done under the assumption that a college degree would come with the promise of a good paying job. Unfortunately, that promise has failed to materialize.

Broken Promises

It was stated to Millennials that with education came a good job, a career. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Millennial unemployment is at an unclear rate, but this reporter has seen reports that it may be as high as sixteen percent. (Why it is so difficult to find information on this matter is a question in and of itself.) Males are hit particularly hard. A report by Bloomberg wonders why young males are leaving such a hole in the United States job market which is supposedly doing well. According to the report, “five-hundred thousand young men are missing (from the labor market) and it isn’t clear why.”

The average Millennial is over forty-two thousand dollars in debt, according to a report by CNBC. Sixteen percent of this debt is from student loans, the majority being from credit card debt. Millennials may find themselves resorting to credit simply to survive as Millennials make less money now than the average worker did in 1975. This too is a result of debt. Debt makes it difficult to get a job as employers will check your credit. With this impediment in place, Millennials are forced to take whatever positions become available-these are often low paying ones.

A Perfect Storm

Millennial troubles may not have begun with college debt. Conditions for this current crisis were planted farther back beginning with outsourcing and globalization. Between 2000 and 2007, the United States lost three point six million manufacturing jobs to outsourcing to countries such as India and China where companies do not have to pay as high a wage. The average worker made more in 1975 because the average worker was more than likely in the manufacturing industry and in a union, both conditions leading to higher wages. Between 1970 and 2000, the manufacturing industry employed around sixteen million to nineteen million people.

From an economic standpoint, the manufacturing industry created a stable base to the American economy. With a stable, well-paying job, the worker would go out and buy goods and services which created jobs in other industries. When the base was removed, the economy suffered. Service jobs came to replace manufacturing jobs, but this industry is incapable of serving as strong a base as manufacturing once did. In addition, many retail companies have gone under since the late 2010s.

All these factors have led to Millennial unemployment, underemployment, and debt.


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