indicators of the Youth Misery Index—youth unemployment, average graduating student loan debt, and national debt per capita—have gone up, at least in part, thanks to government intervention and out-of-control spending.
Young people are understandably angry. Few things are more earth-shattering to a young person than being stuck with no job and tens of thousands of dollars in college debt. To improve our future, young people must become the catalyst for conservative change. 100
Youth Misery Index
90 80 70 60 50
Annual U.S. Government Expenditures4
40 30 20
Young people must become more active; we cannot expect policy makers in Washington to fight these battles for us. Students, visit YAF.org for more information on how YOU can battle job-killing, biggovernment policies.
Young America's Foundation is committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values.
M ind ISERY ex
With Young America’s Foundation’s Free Enterprise Lecture Series, you can bring speakers—such as Steve Forbes, Stephen Moore, Larry Kudlow, and John Fund—to your college campus to help educate fellow students on the failures of big government. For more information:
(800)USA-1776 or yaf.org /YoungAmericasFoundation /TheReaganRanch
Sources: 1) Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 2011 2) FinAid.org (includes NPSAS data plus interpolation/projection), 2011 3) Treasury, Bureau of Economic Analysis; Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 2011 4) White House Office of Management and Budget. 1 = 100 billion in terms of 2005 dollars, 2011 estimated.
About the authors: Ron Meyer is a program officer for Young America’s Foundation. Nathan Harden is a Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation.
Youth Misery Index: Big Government Policies are Morphing Generation ‘Y’ into Generation ‘Why Us?’
Thanks to big government and the Obama administration, young people are miserable. To visualize this dire situation, we created the Youth Misery Index (YMI). Taking a page from Jimmy Carter’s Misery Index, the Youth Misery Index simply adds:
National Debt per capita
Average Graduating Student 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.
Young people today face a three-pronged attack on their financial security—educational debt from their past, unemployment in the present, and a future plagued by the burden of massive government debt.
Youth Misery Index
Each young person will inherit a massive share of government debt, and the interest alone is enough to cripple our economic future. This year, the interest payments are more than $3,000 per taxpayer, and this number will at least double by the end of the decade. As this cost increases, the government will probably either choose to raise taxes or take out more loans to pay the interest— both of which remove capital from the private sector—further compounding the problem.
The Youth Misery Index has reached a record high (90.6) and has grown more than 25 percent in four years—17 percent since the Obama administration took office.
Bottom line: Young people are battling one of the worst job markets in the last century, and hundreds of billions of federal “stimulus” dollars have failed to revive the labor market.
National debt per capita is $46,900— the highest ever.3
17.4 + 26.3 + 46.9
Young people, typically, offer cheaper labor than their counterparts. However, older, more experienced workers—who can’t find higher-paying jobs—are settling for starter jobs historically held by youth. Time reports that 85 percent of 2011 graduates moved back home after college. For those who do find work, the median graduating income has dropped by more than 10 percent.
National Debt per capita (in thousands)
Average graduating student debt has reached a recordbreaking $26,300.2
Y R o y E x S nde I M i + h t u
The youth unemployment rate has actually improved slightly over the last two years. But that doesn’t mean things have gotten better. In the summer of 2010, the Labor Department recorded the lowest youth labor force participation rate in history. Therefore, it seems many young people have simply given up on finding jobs.
Average Graduating Student Debt (in thousands)
Youth unemployment is at 17.4 percent—one of the highest levels since World War II.1
Young people will be stuck paying for government debt they had no part in creating. And they’ll have to do it with less discretionary income than ever before because of record high levels of student loan debt.
Student Loan Debt Prognosticators used to warn the public about a credit card bubble. Now, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt at more than $1 trillion. Student loans, similar to the housing market, relied on a government sponsored enterprise: Sallie Mae. Relaxed lending standards and easy, governmentbacked credit have fueled an explosion in tuition prices.