Red, White, & News: Political Issues Millennials Need To Know About

Smiling through the pain of crippling debt.

Smiling through the pain of crippling debt.

If you’re a 20 or early 30-something, odds are high that you or someone you know has boomeranged back into a parental basement. In 2012, an estimated 36% of young adults lived at home with one or more parents.

Why aren’t we moving out for good? Economic and societal trends — some benign, others less so — are contributing to this “new normal.” Here’s the rundown of reasons millennials trail their parents in financial independence.

If the Economic Recovery Were an Animal, It Would Be a Sloth

Perhaps you’ve been living in a yurt, and didn’t know that a massive recession rocked this country circa 2008. 

For the rest of Generation Y, a job search often doubled as a lesson in how to lower one’s expectations right down to the ground. Even if you found something you wanted to do, and even if you somehow got that interview, a look at monetary compensation quickly stripped any delusions of living the SATC dream. 

For millennials without a college degree (and all that debt! See Reason #3), the employment situation has been even more crippling. Well-paying jobs of the working class variety have skipped the Pacific pond. Outsourcing and general economic sluggishness made The Atlantic dub millennials the “Unluckiest Generation.”

Waiting to Put a Ring On It

When it comes to getting hitched in the 21st century, women want to wait. Men want to wait. The 20s are for exploration, career-launching, and funsies. Plus, lots of grown kids from divorced homes are understandably cautious about committing the great “I do.” Fair enough. 

But bills are just smaller when split in two. (Even a Lit Studies major can grasp such a mathematical conclusion). Two paychecks make a mortgage much more affordable. Same goes for a myriad of other costs.

Student Loans

I paid mine for a year, and then I went off to grad school and signed up for a loan deferment. No payments for 14 months! Now I could focus on scholarly pursuits while stretching my modest teacher salary to cover the basics. Win, right?

Not so much. After graduation, my new student loan bill revealed all that first year of payments: erased. Interest made a whole year of monthly hundreds wholly futile.

Millions of millennials know the song. When entry level jobs pay barely enough to fund a small closet of an apartment, who can afford to start paying back tens of thousands in student debt? But if you defer or reduce that monthly payment, interest kicks you right in the teeth. (Disclosure: my degree didn’t include the words “Business” or “Accounting” or “Finance.”)

Social Security + Medicaid + Medicare = Whole Lotta Money

So, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) estimates that these three programs will consume the entire budget. Possibly within ten years. The youngest millennial will barely be 30 before monster tax increases or system-wide implosion.

(To learn more about how current debt and entitlements are particularly pernicious for millennials, check out The Can Kicks Back, a nonpartisan group formed to give young people a voice in a government that otherwise has little problem passing the buck . . . on to us.)

Stay tuned . . . next week we will cover what the latest POTUS candidates plan on doing about it! 

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