WHY 20 AND 30 SOMETHINGS ARE HAVING TROUBLE MAKING ENDS MEET- interview with STRAPPED author Tamara Draut

02/22/06

Today we carried a live interview with Tamara Draut, author of the new book STRAPPED: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead (Doubleday). Draut is Economic Opportunity Director at Demos.

In STRAPPED, Draut takes a hard look at why 60 percent of adults between ages 18 and 34 are struggling for financial independence. Astronomical student debts, depressed wages, rising healthcare costs and soaring property values are just a few reasons why an entire generation of young people cannot overcome their crippling financial situation. The book offers profiles of a cross-section of young America—from young parents and part-time students to multiple degree seekers and those entering the work force in a post 9/11 world and connects the dots between various social and economic trends and adverse government policies over the last 30 years. Here is a look at the numbers from STRAPPED :

Higher and Higher Education

Inflation-adjusted tuition at public universities has nearly tripled since 1980. Thirty years ago, the average cost of attending a private college in 1976-77 was $12,837 annually, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Today, the average cost of attending a public university is $11,354-which means the burden of affording a state college today is equivalent to that of paying for a private college in the 1970s.

Paycheck Paralysis

In 1972, the typical 25-34 year old male with a high school degree earned just over $42,000, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Today, they'll earn just over $29,000.

Generation Debt

The rise in credit card debt combined with the massive student loan debt means that 25 cents of every dollar in income goes to paying off debt. Because only about half of this age group are homeowners, for many that 25 cents is all going to non-mortgage debt: primarily student loans, car loans and credit cards.

High Cost of Putting a Roof Over Your Head

The Northeast and West, along with other major metro areas like Chicago, are fast becoming middle-class free zones: median home prices in Sacramento doubled to $258,000 between 1997 and 2002; Seattle, $260,000, an increase of 42 percent; Boston, $413,500.

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