Is 'The American Dream' a fantasy for younger workers?

For generations, the American ideal has been that each successive generation becomes more prosperous and successful than the one before it. But unfortunately, that's no longer the case. A new study from the Urban Institute indicates that, while American wealth as a whole has doubled over the last 25 years, younger people have fallen behind as a group.

Today, people age 40 and younger face more financial insecurity, and have a much bleaker prospect for retirement than seniors today. And according to the study, the trend started long before the Great Recession – as income for younger Americans flat-lined in 1999. Younger generations have faced ballooning student loan debt, a slow economy, and a housing market collapse in addition to stagnant wages. Urban Institute experts say that a stronger job market and rising incomes would certainly help many younger workers, but the delay in wealth accumulation may have a lasting impact on their lives.

Ms. Mary McKernan, one of the study's authors, said, “it's a little bit of a tipping-point moment. If we don't address it today, they [younger Americans] might never catch up.” The war on unions, the destruction of a low-cost college education, and the lunacy of trickle-down economics has finally wiped out the possibility of a financially secure future for an entire generation.

The only way we can correct this now is through pro-worker economic policies. We can do this by bringing back good-paying manufacturing jobs. We can re-invest in our nation by providing free, high-quality, college education. We can help people struggling to pay down student loan debt.

We bailed out Wall Street, and huge stock market gains show the banksters are doing just fine. It's time to bail out the working people, so the next generation's “The American Dream” isn't just a fantasy.

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