William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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FADING DREAMS OF YOUTH – AT 10:02 A.M. ET:   It's not often realized, or discussed, but the economic crisis that has now lasted more than four years has had a devastating impact on the young generation, especially young college graduates who began their educations with such optimism and the usual dreams of youth.  Bloomberg has a report on what they're facing, and are likely to face:

Generation Y professionals entering the workforce are finding careers that once were gateways to high pay and upwardly mobile lives turning into detours and dead ends. Average incomes for individuals ages 25 to 34 have fallen 8 percent, double the adult population’s total drop, since the recession began in December 2007. Their unemployment rate remains stuck one-half to 1 percentage point above the national figure.

Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, the earnings and employment gap between those in the under-35 population and their parents and grandparents threatens to unravel the American dream of each generation doing better than the last. The nation’s younger workers have benefited least from an economic recovery that has been the most uneven in recent history.

“This generation will be permanently depressed and will be on a lower path of income for probably all of their life -- and at least the next 10 years,” says Rutgers professor Cliff Zukin, a senior research fellow at the university’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Professionals who start out in jobs other than their first choice tend to stay on the alternative path, earning less than they would have otherwise while becoming less likely to start over again later in preferred fields, Zukin says.

Michael Greenstone, who was chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2009 and 2010, says the shift to a downwardly mobile society may be lasting. “Children are not earning as much as their parents, and I think we’re laying the seeds for that to continue into the future,” he says.

Only one-fifth of those who graduated college since 2006 expect greater success than their parents, a Rutgers survey found earlier this year. Little more than half were working full time. Just one in five said their job put them on a career path.

COMMENT:  It's a very bad picture.  It will affect voting patterns, and may hurry the bursting of the education bubble.  Already we see young people questioning the value of college, and certainly the value of certain majors.  And we could see inter-generational resentment, as young people are forced to pay the benefits for more and more retirees. 

I don't see a solution, but we certainly should be looking for one, or more than one.

December 21, 2012