Michael Snyder, Contributor
The mainstream media continues to insist that the economy is “getting better”, but the poverty numbers for children and young people just continue to explode. For example, did you know that the poverty rate for families with a head of household under the age of 30 is a whopping 37 percent? Children and young people sure didn’t cause our recent economic downturn, but they sure are getting hit the hardest by it.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, for the first time ever more than a million U.S. public school students are homeless. That seems like an impossible number, but it is actually true. How in the world could the “wealthiest nation on earth” get to the point where more than a million children can’t count on a warm bed to sleep in at night?
Sadly, a huge number of American children can’t count on a warm dinner either. About a fourth of them are enrolled in the food stamp program. What do you do if you are a parent in that kind of situation? How do you explain to your kids that you can’t afford a nice home like everybody else has or that you can’t afford to go to the grocery store and buy them some dinner?
Young people are experiencing very rough times right now as well. If you are under the age of 30, it is really, really difficult to get a job in America today. The competition for the few decent jobs that seem to be available is absolutely crazy. Unemployment among young people is at a level that we have not seen since World War II, and this is causing major problems.
Even if you do have a college degree, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get any type of a job. In fact, more than half of all college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year. There are millions of very talented college graduates that are waiting tables, making sandwiches or stocking shelves down at the local branch of a global retail conglomerate. Meanwhile, they are saddled with record breaking amounts of student loan debt.
This is easily the worst economic environment that we have seen for young people since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The number of good jobs continues to decline. Many young people are faced with the choice of taking a bad job or having no job at all.
If you are under 30 in America today, you better hope that you come from a wealthy family or that you have some really good connections, because otherwise the future looks pretty bleak for you.
The following are 20 signs that the U.S. poverty explosion is hitting children and young people the hardest…
1. If you can believe it, a higher percentage of children is living in poverty in America today than was the case back in 1975.
2. More than one out of every five children in the United States is currently living in poverty.
3. According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.
4. Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.
6. It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.
7. One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.
8. The 18 to 24 age group has a higher unemployment rate than any other age group in the United States.
9. Young adult employment is now at the lowest level that we have seen since World War II.
10. In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.
11. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
12. Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.
13. Since the year 2000, incomes for U.S. households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you account for inflation.
14. In 1984, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older was 10 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger. Today, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older is 47 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.
15. During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
16. Many young people are finding that they cannot afford to get married these days. Sadly, an all-time low 44.2 percent of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are married right now.
17. Right now, approximately 53 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 24 age group are living at home.
18. The number of Americans in the 25 to 34 age group that live with their parents has grown by 25 percent since 2007.
19. One survey discovered that 85 percent of all college seniors plan on moving back in with their parents after graduation.
20. Overall, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents in the United States right now according to Time Magazine.
After reading all of those statistics, do you still doubt that America is in decline? If so, you can find some more shocking statistics right here.
The truth is that it should be painfully evident that our economy is not working correctly anymore. We have lots of talented people, but there are not nearly enough jobs and a lot of those very talented people end up sleeping out in the streets.
A recent New York Times article told the story of a young man named Duane Taylor. Sadly, there are way too many young people out there today that are experiencing the same kind of things that he is…
Duane Taylor was studying the humanities in community college and living in his own place when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found, and lost, a second job. And a third.
Now, with what he calls ‘lowered standards’ and a tenuous new position at a Jack in the Box restaurant, Mr. Taylor, 24, does not make enough to rent an apartment or share one. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter, except when his sister lets him crash on her couch.
‘At any time I could lose my job, my security,’ said Mr. Taylor, explaining how he was always the last hired and the first fired. ‘I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.’
There are millions upon millions of young people in America today that feel totally lost because they cannot find their places in the world.
They are angry, frustrated, depressed, desperate and disillusioned. They felt like they did everything that the system told them to do, and now they feel like the system is failing them.
An unemployed 2010 graduate of the University of Florida named Lance Fuller expresses similar sentiments on his blog entitled “Voices Of A Lost Generation“…
They are the countless young men and women eager for an opportunity but have found few, if any. They have desirable skills, are highly educated, and are more than willing to work.
Sadly, crippled by college debt and graduated into a struggling economy, they stand little chance to find gainful employment in their chosen fields and take temporary jobs they are overqualified for. They lie waiting for the dream job they went to school for — but it probably doesn’t exist.
My name is Lance and sadly, I share in this story. Like my twentysomething peers, I am one of the thousands of faces of America’s Generation U — Unfortunate, Unlucky, and Unemployed.
I am fortunate that I have never been without money to buy food and have never had to spend a night on the street. But tonight millions upon millions of Americans under the age of 30 will be faced with those kinds of circumstances.
Please say a prayer for them. They didn’t cause the economic mess that we are in, but they are certainly paying the price for the mistakes that were made.
Does anyone out there have a similar story to the ones that were shared in this article? If so, please feel free to share it below. Perhaps your story will encourage someone else out there who is going through a really hard time right now.
This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.