'Youth Misery Index' hits all time high
Somewhat lost in news about how bad the economy has been is the plight of America's young people. They are threatened with becoming a "lost generation" whose promise was cut short by policies of the Obama administration.
The Young America's Foundation has been publishing its "Youth Misery Index" since 1993. It is calculated by adding youth unemployment and average college loan debt figures with each person's share of the national debt. Under President Obama, the index has skyrocketed.
A Youth Misery Index that measures young Americans' woes has skyrocketed under President Barack Obama and hit an all-time high.
The index, released Wednesday, was calculated by adding youth unemployment and average college loan debt figures with each person's share of the national debt. While it has steadily grown over the decades, under Obama the figure has shot up dramatically, from 83.5 in 2009 to 98.6 in 2013.
The index has increased by 18.1 percent since Obama took office, the highest increase under any president, making Obama the worst president for youth economic opportunity, according to the nonprofit that released the figure.
"Young people are suffering under this economy," said Ashley Pratte, program officer for Young America's Foundation, which developed the index and calculates it annually using federal statistics. "They're still living in their parent's basements, unable to find full-time jobs that pay them what they need in order to pay back their debt."
Youth unemployment in 2013 was 16.3 percent, and student loan debt came in at a record-breaking average of $29,400 last year, the foundation points out; what's more, each person's share of the roughly $17 trillion dollar national debt stands at its highest level ever: $52,948.
"We are racking up this huge tab," Pratte said in an interview Wednesday with The College Fix. "Young people have no part of this debt, but it's the generation that has to deal with it."
The foundation added 16.3, which represents youth unemployment, with 29.4 - the average 4-year- college loan debt - and 52.9, each person's national debt burden, to generate its 2013 figure of 98.6.
In 2012 it was 95.1, and the year before that 90.6. When Obama first took office in 2009, it was 83.5.
When President George Bush left office in 2008 - the index was 69.3. When the figure debuted in 1993, it came in at 53.1.
The foundation argues "there appears to be a statistically significant relationship between government expenditures and the Youth Misery Index."
The keyword is "opportunity." What the index truly represents is a snapshot of the state of opportunity available to young people to have it as good or better than their parents. The crushing student debt, we have already seen, means that young people - especially young married couples - will put off major purchases like home buying and new cars to deal with their college debts. And the looming national debt will have to be dealt with at some point - apparently not by this generation of politicians and voters.
Past societies that failed to offer young people a way up the ladder tend to see youth radicalized. A 2011 poll showed that a near majority of young people had a favorable view of socialism - at odds with the strong majority of Americans who don't. If we want to prevent a "lost generation" that becomes more amendable to big government solutions, opportunities must be created for young people so that they can move out of their parents home and begin their lives as independent adults.