Praise needs to be given to recent work of the Young Americas Foundation. Ron Meyer and Nathan Harden of the foundation published an insightful op-ed in the Washington Times entitled Generation Y Asks Why Us?. The article begins by noting that President Obamas approval among the young has fallen by 30 percent. The authors believe that Americas youth are taking an economic beating. At FRC, we agree.
It isnt just that their unemployment rate is higher than that of any other group in the general populace, but the young are being subjected to record-smashing college debt levels. This is taking place while the national debt explodes. Youth employment stands at 17.4%, and college debt has reached $26,300 for the typical graduate. The national debt now stands about 100% of GDP 15 trillion dollars. More significantly in one sense: the interest payments alone are now equal to $3,000 per taxpayer.
Young Americas Foundation recognizes the economic problems facing the young and has developed a Youth Misery Index. The Index reflects a value for youth unemployment plus college debt levels and per capita national debt. This is a good idea, and I look forward to the Index's release each year.
(One suggestion might be to adjust the national debt component to also reflect the finding of Reinhart and Rogoff (This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly) that debt levels above 90% of GDP have a detrimental effect on long-term growth and stability.)