Opinion: Millennials and the Urgent Need to Tackle the Cost of Living Crisis
Millennials, as widely acknowledged, find themselves in a challenging position. Despite being recognized as the most educated generation in American history, we are burdened by staggering educational debt. The wealth accumulation of our parents at our age remains elusive, raising doubts about our ability to ever catch up. Hindered by a slow entry into homeownership due to a lack of available properties, we are compelled to channel our hard-earned money into soaring rents, making saving for a 20% down payment seem increasingly out of reach. Financial stress has even extended to the point where starting a family becomes a luxury we can ill afford, leaving our Boomer parents disappointed.
I delved into the intricacies of the Millennial struggle in a book, exploring the advantages Baby Boomers enjoyed and often hoarded for themselves. Amidst the prevalent doom and gloom surrounding Millennial life, there lie significant opportunities. The prosperity Boomers enjoyed resulted not merely from luck or numbers but stemmed from unprecedented government investments in their education, health, and ability to live independently.
It’s not too late to reshape the future for Millennials and subsequent generations. While the solutions to these challenges could fill a book, I’ll highlight three key priorities:
Make Higher Education More Accessible
The diminishing faith in higher education in the past decade is troubling. While a college degree still translates to significantly better wages on average, the increasing skepticism is driven by the soaring costs and the burden of student debt. A comprehensive solution involves substantial state and federal investments in both higher and K-12 education, ensuring affordability and quality for all. Regulating the student loan industry and curbing exploitative for-profit institutions are integral steps in this direction.
Provide Universal Low-Cost Child Care
Child care emerges as a formidable barrier to Millennial economic stability. The exorbitant costs in the United States, coupled with insufficient government investment, hinder workforce participation, especially for low-income mothers. Universal, affordable, and high-quality child care not only supports working mothers but also contributes to children’s school readiness and overall development. Dispelling outdated notions about mothers leaving the workforce, universal child care can alleviate stress for American parents and enhance the well-being of families.
End the Housing Shortage
America’s broken housing system exacerbates Millennials’ struggles. Cities and suburbs alike face a housing shortage, a stark contrast to the expansion of housing stock during the Boomer era. Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive approach, including government incentives, tax reforms, and support for first-time homebuyers. Overhauling property taxation, though ambitious, is crucial to ensuring fair revenue distribution and equal educational opportunities, consequently benefiting young families.
While the challenges facing Millennials are complex, there is an immediate need for action. The clock is ticking, and the older Millennials, now in their early 40s, underscore the urgency of implementing solutions. By learning from past mistakes and investing in a better future, the United States can chart a course toward financial stability and prosperity for generations to come.