As the presidential race shifts into high gear, college students and recent graduates are still being largely ignored, except by one candidate whose promises of rainbows and unicorns are dreams – not reality.
As the smartest and, possibly, poorest generation in our nation’s history, Millennials will soon have their day of reckoning. Here are the key issues threatening our generation, that we hope the next administration will tackle, so that we, too, can live the American Dream.
1. Colleges are robbing students.
College tuition costs have skyrocketed by over 500 percent since 1985. As long as schools continue to tell young people that a degree will guarantee them a better future, they’ll keep footing the bill. The government helps them load up on debt – and leaves them with little to no help after the fact.
2. To get a job in America you need to spend money you don’t have.
Outstanding student loan debt has reached a staggering $1.2 trillion, with over 70 percent of BA degree graduates borrowing to pay for college. Some 21 million students now each owe an average of $29,400. What’s worse, students have rack up all that debt even for jobs that pay $10 an hour. Good luck working that off.
3. That $200,000 degree may not be worth the paper it’s printed on.
College students graduating today are more likely to work a low-wage job that doesn’t require a college degree – the worst imbalance since at least 1990, according to the Federal Reserve.
Even worse, the average median earnings for the class of 2013 was the lowest since 1980, adjusting for inflation.
4. We’re kept financially illiterate by a broken education system.
One of the most indebted generations in American history is also the least equipped to manage its debt. Only 24 percent of Millenials qualify as financially literate, according to PWC and half expect that they wouldn’t be able to handle an emergency bill of $2,000.
Few colleges and fewer high schools teach pocketbook economics. No wonder we’re slaves to the system.
5. The government puts up roadblocks to starting our own businesses.
Despite the majority of Millennials and college students indicating that they want to start their own business at some point, the number of actual entrepreneurs is going down. The share of new entrepreneurs between the ages of 20 and 34 declined by 12% when compared to the same demographic in 1996.
According to the Manhattan Institute, one of the biggest barriers to new business creation among those under 30 is the mountain of federal, state and local regulations.
Without modernizing government regulations to encourage new startups, we’re likely to see entrepreneurship continue to decline. We’ll also have less chances of making money driving an Uber or renting out a room on Airbnb, as the taxi and hotel industries and regulators crack down on innovation.
6. Not only does government stop us from working, it takes what little cash we may have.
Politicians use Millennials to pay for programs such as Social Security and Medicare that would otherwise be insolvent. The amount of debt held by the public will be more that 79 percent of GDP by 2024, when Millennials will make up most of the labor force. To pay for that debt, taxes will have to rise.
The think tank Demos calls this “generational theft.”
7. Of course, in the end, politicians don’t care about us. We’re, um, fkd.
When asked whether or not the presidential candidates were addressing the issues close to them, roughly 86 percent, all aged 18 to 34, reported feeling ignored.
If Grandma and Grandpa wonder why today’s kids are angry, they may need to look at the economic policies that have us trapped. Today’s political candidates need to:
Lay out realistic and viable plans to boost job growth;
Overhaul last century’s regulations,
Stop ripping us off to pay for the generations that stand in front of us;
Let us get on with our careers, our business ideas and our dreams
Or maybe they want us to believe pigs can fly.
Justin Dent is the co-founder and Policy and Director at GenFKD. Justin grew up in New York City and studies Agricultural Resource Economics and Government at the University of Maryland.