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Young people, post recession: Ready to launch?

Post-recession data and the government's pro-elderly policies don't give much hope to Millennials. Yet they remain surprisingly optimistic.

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A young worker does quality checks on razor blades manufactured at Gillette's factory in Boston in Dec. 2011.
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Brian Snyder/REUTERS/Files

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It may be getting really old to be young in America.

That is in large part because of the lingering aftereffects of the Great Recession on people who are between the ages of 18 and 34, according to recent data.

More than a quarter of that group, for example, now live with a parent. During the recession, young people’s income took the biggest hit. Half of them now have jobs simply to pay the bills, not as a career choice. And for college grads with a student loan, the average debt is $27,200.

And this week Congress further depleted the future solvency of Social Security by moving to extend a cut in the payroll tax. President Obama’s budget, meanwhile, is heavily weighted toward spending on the elderly and their entitlements, and Congress will likely go along with that. And over the next decade, the federal debt will grow 68 percent to $19.5 trillion under the Obama budget, leaving a heavy burden for future generations.

No wonder voter turnout among young people is expected to return to its historic low rates in the 2012 election. One reason, according to the Pew Center on the States, is the disorderly waythat states register voters, especially mobile people like students and other young people. Nearly a quarter of people who are eligible to vote are not registered.

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