Sep 1, 2009

A dire outlook for young American workers

The AFL-CIO recently released a report detailing the plight of young American workers in today’s struggling economy. It should come as no surprise that the financial barriers facing young workers is having an adverse effect on their higher education attainment. Most notably, young people in the workforce are being forced to put their education on hold, delaying their achievement of financial independence. In fact, almost 40 percent of young workers have postponed college because of monetary issues. This number climbs even higher for young people of color.

The need for lending reform is clear, as the report found that nearly 1 in 4 young workers who take out loans for college end up dropping out. For these students to stay in school and better their lives, Congress must pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which will improve the federal lending system and invest heavily in critical retention programs.

The importance of a college education is illustrated in the daily struggles of young workers. Without a degree, young workers are much less likely than their college-educated peers to have enough money to pay the bills. This can lead to multiple jobs or plummeting further into debt.

All in all, the AFL-CIO report paints a bleak picture for America’s young workers without a college degree. Fortunately, President Obama has made higher education affordability a top priority for his administration. And with a strong commitment to community colleges and need-based aid from the federal government, hopefully the next report will shine a brighter light on the young American worker.

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