Young America’s Foundation has released a useful tool to quantify the hardships faced by today’s youth — by Obama Zombies, Occupiers and caught-in-between conservatives alike. Called the Youth Misery Index (thanks, Jimmy Carter, for providing the inspiration for such an uplifting name!), it combines the youth unemployment rate, average graduating student loan debt in thousands and national debt per capita in thousands to arrive at a single number that captures in a split-second the financial situation of most millennials. Today, the YMI stands at a stark record-high 90.6. According to the YAF, the Index has grown 25 percent in four years — 17 percent since the Obama administration took office.
YAF explains that, today, young people are hit from all sides:
Young people today face a three-pronged attack on their financial security — education debt from their past, unemployment in the present, and a future plagued by the burden of massive government debt.
The government is largely responsible for all three problems. We’ve found a statistically significant relationship between government expenditures and the Youth Misery Index; this is no coincidence. Each indicator can be linked to government actions.
You bet the government has played a part. Don’t let Barack Obama’s recent talk of abundant summer jobs or restructured student loans fool you, either. The policies contained in his American Jobs Act were just more of the same policies that have landed us in this mess in the first place — deficit spending that aims to acquire reelection support not to stimulate the economy.
In general, the youth unemployment situation is particularly bleak. While the official youth unemployment rate has improved in the past two years, the youth labor force participation rate dropped to an historic low in the summer of 2010. In other words, young people have just given up on the idea that they will find jobs.
The government’s takeover of the student loan industry doesn’t bode well for the future, either. The abundance of credit will just lead to ever-higher tuition prices, creating a bubble that will eventually burst.
Fortunately, millennials need not be dependent on government. Maybe it’s cheesy to recommend tried-and-true motivational tactics as a prescription to alleviate misery, but, at a time when politicians seem to have lost the ability to inspire and turn repeatedly to tried-and-failed stimulative policies, young adults have to take their future into their own hands. I recommend Christine Hassler as a good place to start for job-search tips. In the meantime, students who haven’t yet taken out massive loans for an undergraduate or graduate degree might want to consider choosing the cheapest rather than the most prestigious college. Finally, with their votes, millennials need to stop worrying so much about social responsibility — which is ingrained into them as a top priority by school administrators, but is, as Dick Armey says, just as euphemism for personal irresponsibility — and vote instead for fiscal responsibility.