Newly released Census data demonstrate the chilling impact the recession has had on the current crop of young Americans, to whom the American Dream is increasingly becoming a historical curiosity.

Certainly the tradition of striking out on one’s own is fast waning.

The Census says that 5.9 million Americans ages 25 to 34 are living with their parents, an increase of 25 percent from before the recession. Men are now twice as likely as young women to live with their parents. As an expression, “empty nesters” is almost quiz-show material.

They are delaying the traditional middle-class aspirations of marriage, buying a home and starting a family. Well, they do start families, but typically do so out of wedlock, meaning the mother likely faces a life of poverty. One in four families is headed by a single parent, a record high, according to the Census.

Homeownership, which would include the traditional “starter home” of young couples, is down for the fourth straight year.

Only 55.3 percent of young adults 16 to 29 were employed, according to the Census, down from 67.3 percent in 2000 and again a post-World War II low.

Until a better name for this hard-luck cohort comes along, the Shortchanged Generation will do as well as any.

— The News-Herald,

Willoughby, Ohio, Sept. 24


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