Monday, September 26, 2011

Recent Articles on EA and Coping with Economic Gloom

A couple of news articles have come out recently about how emerging adults are dealing with the protracted economic gloom of the the past few years. One article, passed on to me by Tim Oblad, a graduate student in our department at Texas Tech, is entitled "Census Numbers Show Recession Taking Toll on Young Adults" (link). The article notes that:

In record-setting numbers, young adults struggling to find work are shunning long-distance moves to live with Mom and Dad, delaying marriage and buying fewer homes, often raising kids out of wedlock. They suffer from the highest unemployment since World War II and risk living in poverty more than others -- nearly 1 in 5.

Many emerging adults appear, in many ways, to be putting their lives on hold until the economy improves. The article suggests, however, that when job prospects get brighter, individuals who might by then be in their mid-20s "will have to compete with new graduates for entry-level career positions."

The article quotes Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau, which studies demographic and societal trends, and Mather makes an important point. The past few years' flagging economy didn't initiate the trends of young people delaying marriage, moving back home with their parents, and so forth, but the recession seems to be "accelerating" these pheonomena.

The other article, brought to the attention of the American Association for Public Opinion Research e-mail discussion group (in which I participate) by Leo Simonetta, is entitled "2010 Data Show Surge in Poor Young Families" (link). The two articles share some of the same sources.

Most notably, the second article reports that, "More than one in three young families with children were living in poverty last year," with "young family" in this context apparently defined as the parents being younger than 30.

For decades, the U.S. economy has been rewarding those with greater education and/or punishing those with less education, depending on one's perspective. What's scary is how quickly this dynamic has exerted itself during the current recession. Again, quoting from the second article, "The number of men in their 20s with only a high school degree who worked full time fell by 22 percent from 2007 to 2010, while those with a college degree dropped by just 1 percent, according to census data."

Pretty gloomy stuff! On a separate but related note, Barbara Ray, a fellow writer on young-adulthood issues, has been working on a project called "Generation R" (for Recession).

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