Great Recession Means a Diminished American Dream for Young Adults
It is unclear exactly how long it will take for the U.S. economy to recover, but it appears certain that the healing will be long and slow, potentially lasting more than a decade. For young Americans just starting their careers, though, the effects could last a lifetime.
Recent data suggests that the economic downturn can profoundly impact major life decisions and limit choices for people in their 20s and early 30s: young American adults have high unemployment, are buying fewer homes, and putting off childbearing. This may make for a longer-term cultural shift in America, as a generation scarred by economic woes finds that the American Dream to which older generations have aspired -- a house, 2.5 kids, a steady career, and financial security -- is increasingly out of reach.
Perhaps the most obvious way that young people have been hit by the recession/downturn is unemployment.
The labor market has been particularly cruel to young people, According to analysis of Census data, employment among adults age 16 to 29 was at 55.3 percent in 2010, down from 67.3 percent in 2000 and the lowest level since the end of World War II.
Younger Americans are also less able to live on their own. As the
The delay in home purchases may be due to several factors, like income and job instability, increased likelihood of foreclosure for newer owners, or conscious decisions to put off homebuying. Becoming a first-time homebuyer is difficult and perhaps inadvisable during a period of instability. "I think if I were a youth in that age group, I'd be focused more on maintaining my ability to move and be mobile," says
But the dream of owning a home has not died yet for America's young adults.
Though social shifts have indeed led to delayed childbearing, the economy might itself exacerbate that trend. According to a recent report from the
Living through a prolonged downturn can also naturally adjust a generation's economic and political attitudes.
Even with a recovery in place, albeit slow, the recent crisis and growing inequality could still continue to mobilize Americans, and particularly young Americans. "We're still not broke. We're still a rich country, we're still going to see rising GDP per capita going forward," says Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal
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Great Recession Means a Diminished American Dream for Young Adults | Politics
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