37 million Americans currently have outstanding student loans, and the delinquency rate on those student loans has now reached a level never seen before. According to a new report that was just released by the U.S. Department of Education, 11 percent of all student loans are at least 90 days delinquent. That is a brand new record high, and it is almost double the rate of a decade ago. Total student loan debt exceeds a trillion dollars, and it is now the second largest category of consumer debt after home mortgages. The student loan debt bubble has been growing particularly rapidly in recent years. According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003. That is a staggering figure. Millions upon millions of young college graduates are entering the “real world” only to discover that they are already financially crippled for decades to come by oppressive student loan debt burdens. Large numbers of young people are even putting off buying homes or getting married simply because of student loan debt.
So why is this happening? Well, a big part of the problem is that the cost of college tuition has gotten wildly out of control. Since 1978, the cost of college tuition has risen even more rapidly then the cost of medical care has. Tuition costs at public universities have risen by 27 percent over the past five years, and there appears to be no end in sight.
We keep encouraging our young people to take out all of the loans that are necessary to pay for college, because a college education is supposedly the “key” to their futures.
But is that really the case?
Sadly, the reality of the matter is that millions of young Americans are graduating from college only to discover that the jobs that they were promised simply do not exist.
In fact, at this point about half of all college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.
This is leading to mass disillusionment with the system. One survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in college.
And because so many of them cannot get decent jobs, more college graduates then ever are finding that they cannot pay back the huge student loans that they were encouraged to sign up for. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article.
Eleven percent of student loans were seriously delinquent — at least 90 days past due — in the third quarter of 2012, compared with 6 percent in the first quarter of 2003, according to the report by the U.S. Education Department. Almost 30 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds aren’t employed or in school, the study found.
Everyone agrees that we are now dealing with an unprecedented student loan debt bubble, but none of our leaders seem to have any solutions.
The two charts posted below come from a recent Zero Hedge article, and they are very illuminating. The first chart shows how the amount of student loan debt owned by the federal government has absolutely exploded in recent years, and the second chart shows how the percentage of student loan debt that is at least 90 days delinquent has risen to a brand new record high…
How is the economy ever going to recover if an increasingly large percentage of our young college graduates are financially crippled by student loan debt?
And things are about to get even worse.
If Congress takes no action, the interest rate on federal student loans is going to double to 6.8 percent on July 1st. That rate increase would affect more than 7 million students.
And debt burdens just continue to increase in size. In fact, according to one recent study, “70 per cent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt – averaging $35,200 – including federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards.”
This is one reason why there is so much poverty among young adults in America today. As I mentioned in a previous article, families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent. For much more on the student loan debt bubble and how it is crippling an entire generation of Americans, please see my recent article entitled “29 Shocking Facts That Prove That College Education In America Is A Giant Money Making Scam“.
And of course delinquency rates remain very high on other forms of debt as well. For example, delinquency rates on home mortgages have typically been around 2 to 3 percent historically. But as you can see from the chart below, the delinquency rate on single-family residential mortgages is currently close to 10 percent…
So are we really having an “economic recovery”?
Of course not.
Things are good for those that have lots of money in the stock market (for now), but for the vast majority of Americans things continue to get worse.
And we continue to forget the lessons that we should have learned from the financial crisis of 2008. Right now, we are seeing a resurgence of cash out financing. But this time, people are leveraging their inflated stock portfolios instead of their home equity. The following is from a CNN report…
The recent run-up in the market, financial advisers say, has led to a resurgence of the type of loan not seen since the end of the housing boom — cash out financing. But this time, though, people aren’t tapping their inflated house for money. These days stock portfolios appear to be the well of choice.
Financial planners say in recent months clients have taken out so-called margin loans to buy real estate, fund small business acquisitions, or to provide gap financing before a traditional loan could be secured from a bank.
“No one wants to be out of the market for 90 days,” says Mark Brown, a financial planner for Brown Tedstron in Denver. “People just don’t want to sell right now.”
We are a nation that is absolutely addicted to debt. We know that it is wrong, but we just can’t help ourselves.
We are like the 900 pound man that recently died. He knew that he was eating himself to death, but he just couldn’t stop.
In the end, we are going to pay a great price for our gluttony. Everyone in the world can see that we are killing the greatest economy that ever existed, but we simply do not have the self-discipline to do anything about it.
Right now, interest rates are near historic lows. The U.S. government is able to borrow gigantic mountains of money for next to nothing. U.S. consumers are still able to get home loans, car loans and student loans at ridiculously low interest rates. When this low interest rate environment changes (and it will), it is going to absolutely devastate the U.S. economy. Without low interest rates, the U.S. financial system dies. When it comes to borrowing money, it is the rate of interest that causes the pain. If you could borrow as much money as you wanted at a zero rate of interest for the rest of your life you would never, ever have a debt problem. But when there is a cost to borrowing money that changes things. The higher the rate of interest goes, the more painful debt becomes.
The only reason that U.S. government finances have not fallen apart completely already is because the federal government is still able to borrow huge amounts of money very cheaply. If interest rates on U.S. government debt even return just to “average” levels, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic.
So what happens if rates go above “average”?
The reality is that if there is a major crisis that causes interest rates on U.S. Treasuries to go well beyond “normal” levels it is going to cause a complete and total collapse.
In 2010, the U.S. government paid out just $413 billion in interest even though the national debt soared to 14 trillion dollars by the end of the year.
That means that the U.S. government paid somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 percent interest for the year.
Considering how rapidly the U.S. dollar has been declining and how much money printing the Federal Reserve has been doing, a rate of interest that low is absolutely ridiculous.
The shorter the term, the more ridiculous the rates of interest on U.S. Treasuries are.
For example, the rate of interest on 3 month U.S. Treasuries right now is just barely above zero.
The Federal Reserve has been playing all kinds of games in an attempt to keep interest rates on U.S. government debt low, and so far they have been pretty successful at it.
But they aren’t going to be able to do it forever.
Up until now, other nations and investors around the world have continued to participate in the system even though they know that the Federal Reserve is cheating.
However, there are signs that a lot of investors are finally getting fed up and are ready to walk away from U.S. government debt.
China has been dumping short-term U.S. government debt. Russia has been dumping U.S. government debt. Pimco has been dumping U.S. government debt.
Others are taking things even farther.
In fact, there are some investors that plan on cashing in on the loss of confidence in U.S. Treasuries. Renowned investor Jim Rogers says that he is now going to be shorting 30 year U.S. government bonds.
Just check out what Rogers recently told CNBC….
“I cannot imagine or conceive lending money to the United States government for 30-years at 3, 4, 5 or 6 percent —you pick a number — in U.S. dollars”
And he is right. Who in the world would be stupid enough to loan the U.S. government money at a 4 or 5 percent rate of interest for the next 30 years?
Actually, most U.S. government debt is financed in the short-term these days. In fact, the U.S. government issues a higher percentage of short-term debt than any other industrialized nation.
This trend really got started during the Clinton administration. Back then they figured out that the U.S. could reduce its borrowing costs substantially by relying much more heavily on short-term debt. The Bush and Obama administrations have continued this trend.
So these days the U.S. government constantly has huge amounts of debt that are maturing and that need to be rolled over.
This is great as long as interest rates stay very, very low.
But when interest rates rise the whole game will change.
In a recent article, Pat Buchanan explained that the Obama administration is being completely unrealistic when it assumes that interest rates on U.S. government debt will stay incredibly low over the next decade….
“The average rate of interest the Fed has had to pay to borrow for the last two decades has been 5.7 percent. However, President Obama is projecting the cost of money at only 2.5 percent.
A return to the normal Fed rate would, by 2020, add $4.9 trillion to the cumulative deficit”
Most Americans really cannot grasp how incredibly low interest rates are right now.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
The following chart shows how interest rates on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds have declined over the last several decades.
As confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. government debt declines, interest rates will go up.
In fact, there are troubling signs that we are starting to see a move in that direction right now. Last week, the yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries experienced the biggest one week percentage jump ever recorded.
The big danger is that the political wrangling in Washington D.C. will start to cause a panic. The managing director of Standard & Poor’s recently told Reuters that if the U.S. government starts defaulting on debt at the beginning of August, the credit rating on U.S. Treasury bonds that are supposed to mature on August 4th will go from AAA all the way down to D….
Chambers, who is also the chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, told Reuters on Tuesday that U.S. Treasury bills maturing on August 4 would be rated ‘D’ if the government fails to honor them. Unaffected Treasuries would be downgraded as well, but not as sharply, he said.
“If the U.S. government misses a payment, it goes to D,” Chambers said. “That would happen right after August 4, when the bills mature, because they don’t have a grace period.”
When a credit rating gets slashed, interest rates on that debt can go up dramatically.
Just ask the citizens of Greece.
Today, the interest rate on 2 year Greek bonds is over 26 percent.
You are delusional if you believe that something like that can never happen here.
Right now the U.S. national debt is completely and totally out of control. If the U.S. government had to start paying interest rates of 10, 15 or 20 percent to borrow money it would be a total nightmare.
This year the U.S. government will have income of about 2.2 trillion dollars.
If in future years the U.S. government is spending a trillion or a trillion and a half dollars just on interest on the national debt, then how in the world is it going to be possible to even run the government, much less balance the budget?
But rising interest rates would not just devastate the federal government.
It would become much more expensive for state and local governments to borrow money.
Student loans would become much more expensive.
Car loans would become much more expensive.
Home loans would become out of reach for everyone except the very wealthy.
As we saw during the housing crash of a few years ago, rising interest rates can absolutely wipe homeowners out.
On a standard home loan, if you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 10 percent you increase the mortgage payment by approximately 50 percent.
If you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 15 percent, you roughly double the mortgage payment.
As the 30 year fixed rate mortgage chart below shows, interest rates are near historic lows right now….
Keep in mind that even with such ridiculously low interest rates the U.S. real estate market has been deader than a doornail.
So what would a significant spike in interest rates do to it?
When all of these low interest rates go away the entire financial system is going to change dramatically.
A significant spike in interest rates would wipe out U.S. government finances, it would push state and local governments all over the country to the brink of bankruptcy, it would bring economic activity to a standstill and it would destroy any hopes for a housing recovery.
This country, and in particular the federal government, is enslaved to debt but right now we are not feeling the full pain of that debt because interest rates are so low.
If you want to know when things are really going to start coming apart, just keep an eye on interest rates. When they really start spiking you can start sounding the alarm.
The truth is that the state of the economy is going to continue to get worse. Our debt is growing every single day and our country is getting poorer every single day. When interest rates start surging it is going to start knocking over a lot of dominoes.
I hope you are getting prepared for when that happens.
Today America is very, very frustrated. In fact, we probably have not seen this level of anger in the country since World War 2 ended. So why are so many Americans so frustrated and so angry right now? Well, for most Americans it comes down to the economy. Very few things are more frustrating than not being able to find a job that will enable you to pay the mortgage and feed your family. Middle class Americans that do have a little bit of money are digging into their savings and investments at a staggering rate as they desperately try to keep their heads above water. Millions of other families that do not have a “safety cushion” are on the verge of losing their homes or have already been callously tossed out onto the streets by big, greedy banks. Meanwhile, our politicians continue to burden us with increasingly larger amounts of government debt and they stand idly by as our jobs and our industries are shipped overseas. So even though the mainstream media seems absolutely puzzled by the growing anger in America, the truth is that it is not a great mystery. The economy is an absolute nightmare, and if it gets even worse people are going to become even more angry.
The mainstream media and our top politicians are running around proclaiming that the economy has turned around, and yet all of the important long-term economic numbers continue to get worse. Do they think that the American people are stupid?
Perhaps they are just trying to be “optimistic” and are trying to get us all to “believe” in the economic recovery.
Well, while it certainly does not hurt to “stay positive” and to “have faith” when there is some basis in reality for doing so, but what the mainstream media is asking us all to do is to stick our heads in the sand and to pretend that all of our horrific economic problems are not even there.
Until we recognize exactly what our problems are and how bad they have gotten we will never be able to come up with the appropriate solutions.
Our economy does not just need a “tweak” or two. Our economy is a total nightmare at this point.
The following are 20 things about our nightmare of an economy that you will not want to read if you do not want to become very, very angry….
#1 Today, millions of American families are digging deep into their savings and investments in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. Over the past two years, U.S. consumers have withdrawn $311 billion more from savings and investment accounts than they have put into them.
#2 15 billion dollars: the total amount of compensation that Goldman Sachs paid out to its employees for 2010.
#3 The number of American families that were booted out of their homes and into the streets set a new all-time record in 2010.
#4 Dozens of packages that we buy in the supermarket have been reduced in size by up to 20%. For example, there are now 2 less slices of cheese in a typical package of Kraft American cheese, and there is now 9 percent less toilet paper in a typical package of Scott toilet paper. So now, you may think that you are paying the same amount for these items that you always have, but the truth is that you have been hit with a large price increase.
#5 One Canadian company is making a ton of money shipping “millions and millions of dollars” worth of manufacturing equipment from factories that are being shut down in the United States over to new factories that are being set up in China.
#6 In America today, the wealthiest 20% own a whopping 93% of all the “financial assets” in the United States.
#7 Only 35 percent of Americans now have enough “emergency savings” to be able to cover three months of living expenses.
#8 47 percent of all Americans now believe that China is the number one economic power in the world.
#9 If the U.S. banking system is healthy, then why does the number of “problem banks” continue to keep increasing? This past week the number of U.S. banks on the unofficial list of problem banks reached 937.
#10 According to former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, the wealthiest 0.1% of all Americans make as much money as the poorest 120 million.
#11 U.S. housing prices have now fallen further during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
#12 According to some very disturbing new research, 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit “no significant gains in learning” after two years in college.
#13 Americans now owe more than $884 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time record.
#14 The United Nations says that the global price of food hit an all-time record high in December, and the price of oil is surging towards $100 a barrel, but the U.S. government continues to insist that we barely have any inflation at all.
#15 The more Americans that are on food stamps the more profits that JP Morgan makes. Today, an all-time record of 43.2 million Americans are on food stamps, and JP Morgan is making a lot of money processing millions of those benefit payments.
#16 Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.
#17 Dozens of U.S. states are either implementing tax increases in 2011 or are considering proposals to raise taxes.
#18 The United States has had a negative trade deficit every single year since 1976.
#19 The U.S. national debt has crossed the $14 trillion mark for the first time, and at some point during 2011 it will cross the $15 trillion mark.
#20 What the U.S. economy really needs is for the government to get off all of our backs, but instead they continue to tighten their grip on us. In fact, the Obama administration is proposing a “universal Internet ID” that would watch, track, monitor and potentially control everything that you do on the Internet.
If our Founding Fathers were alive today, what would they think of America? Surely they would be very proud that the United States stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific and has built some of the most amazing cities that the world has ever seen. They would probably be surprised that the country they founded went on to become the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, and they would be absolutely astounded by things like our interstate highway system and the Internet. However, there are quite a number of things that they would be horrified about as well. The fact that over 40 million Americans are dependent on the federal government for their daily food would be deeply disturbing to our founders. Also, the fact that the U.S. government has accumulated the greatest mountain of debt in human history would be incredibly distressing to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the founders. But perhaps most of all, our founders would be absolutely disgusted that the land where Americans could once be free to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has become so tightly regulated and controlled that Americans dare not even squeak without the permission of the federal government.
Needless to say, our founders would certainly not understand many of our institutions or many of the advanced technologies that we have today. But without a doubt they would be able to grasp how far we have fallen as a nation and how far we have strayed from the fundamental principles that they enshrined in our founding documents. The United States is a much different place today than it was in 1776, and unfortunately many of the changes have been for the worse.
The following are 50 mind blowing facts about modern America that our Founding Fathers never would have believed….
#1 In 2010, not only does the United States have a central bank, but it also runs our economy and issues all of our currency. The Federal Reserve has devalued the U.S. dollar by over 95 percent since 1913 and it has been used to create the biggest mountain of government debt in the history of the world.
#2 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that U.S. government agents can legally sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, place a secret GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of you everywhere that you go.
#3 The 50 wealthiest members of Congress saw their collective fortunes increase by 85.1 million dollars to $1.4 billion in 2009.
#4 The U.S. government has accumulated a national debt that is rapidly approaching the 14 trillion dollar mark.
#5 All over the United States, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel because it is cheaper to maintain. The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt road into gravel over the past year, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have now turned some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.
#6 Americans now owe more than $849 billion on student loans, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards.
#7 In 2010, Americans waste an astounding amount of food. According to a study by the California Integrated Waste Management board, 63 percent of the average supermarket’s waste stream is food. When you break that down, it means that each supermarket wastes approximately 3,000 pounds of food each year.
#8 The city of Cleveland plans to sort through curbside trash to ensure that people are actually recycling properly. If it is discovered that some citizens are not recycling they will be hit with very large fines.
#9 Once upon a time, U.S. industry was the envy of the world. But since 1979, manufacturing employment in the United States has fallen by 40 percent.
#10 Even though the U.S. population has exploded in size, the number of Americans with manufacturing jobs today is smaller than the number of Americans who were employed in manufacturing in 1950.
#11 Having one out of every eight Americans enrolled in the food stamp program is now considered “the new normal” and Americans continue to drop into poverty in astounding numbers.
#12 One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.
#13 A family of four actually has difficulty surviving on an income of $50,000 a year in America in 2010.
#14 Barack Obama is backing a proposal to create a national database that will store the DNA of all individuals who have been arrested, even if they end up not being convicted of a crime.
#15 In 2010, it takes the average unemployed American worker over 8 months to find a job.
#16 The U.S. government has made some parts of Arizona off limits to U.S. citizens because of the threat of violence from Mexican drug smugglers. The federal government has actually posted signs more than 100 miles north of the Mexican border warning travelers that certain areas are unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers.
#17 One recent survey of last year’s college graduates discovered that 80 percent moved right back home with their parents after graduation.
#18 In one of the very first military commissions held under the Obama administration, a U.S. military judge ruled that confessions obtained by threatening the subject with rape are admissible in court.
#19 The average American worker now pays literally dozens of different kinds of taxes each year.
#20 In recent years the U.S. government has spent $2.6 million tax dollars to study the drinking habits of Chinese prostitutes and $400,000 tax dollars to pay researchers to cruise six bars in Buenos Aires, Argentina to find out why gay men engage in risky sexual behavior when drunk.
#21 Christians are being arrested and thrown in jail in some areas of the United States for quietly passing out Christian literature on public sidewalks.
#22 The Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice has announced that it will begin using cutting edge analysis software to predict crime by young delinquents and will place “potential offenders” in prevention and education programs.
#23 Organic milk is now considered such a national crisis that the FDA has been conducting military style raids on Amish farmers in the state of Pennsylvania.
#24 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that they are considering a crackdown on farm dust.
#25 According to a new CDC report, nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis.
#26 Oakland, California Police Chief Anthony Batts says that due to severe budget cuts there are a number of crimes that his department will simply not be able to respond to any longer. The crimes that the Oakland police will no longer be responding to include grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism.
#27 Today, Americans are losing their homes in staggering numbers. One out of every seven mortgages was delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.
#28 Many of our leading scientists are now calling themselves “transhumanists” and are openly proclaiming that a future where men have fully merged with machines is inevitable.
#29 Americans who spend large amounts of cash are viewed as “potential criminals” by the U.S. government in 2010.
#30 New full body security scanners going into airports all across the United States can actually see through our clothing and produce very clear and very detailed images of our exposed bodies as we walk through them.
#31 The U.S. financial system has become a massive gambling parlor in 2010. As a result, a horrific derivatives bubble has developed that threatens to destroy our entire economy at any moment. Nobody knows exactly how big the derivatives bubble is, but low estimates place it at around 600 trillion dollars and high estimates put it at around 1.5 quadrillion dollars. Once that bubble pops there simply will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.
#32 The U.S. government is spending an amount of money equivalent to approximately 25.4 percent of GDP this year.
#33 Today, 10,000 people make 30% of the total income in the United States.
#34 A 2006 Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation discovered that 250 employees of the Defense Department used credit cards or PayPal to purchase images of children in sexual situations. However, the investigation also found that the Pentagon investigated only a handful of those cases.
#35 According to a recent poll of Americans between the ages of 44 and 75, 61% said that running out money was their biggest fear. The remaining 39% thought death was scarier.
#36 Approximately 57 percent of Barack Obama’s 3.8 trillion dollar budget for 2011 consists of direct payments to individual Americans or is money that is spent on their behalf.
#37 A recent Department of Justice guide for investigators of criminal and extremist groups lists “constitutionalists” and “survivalists” alongside organizations like Al-Qaeda and the Aryan Brotherhood.
#38 The U.S. trade deficit has exploded to nightmarish proportions over the past two decades. Every single month tens of billions more dollars goes out of the United States than comes into it. Essentially, the United States is becoming far poorer as a nation each and every month.
#39 Factories are closing in droves across the United States because the American people would rather buy things made in China.
#40 Millions upon millions of good paying middle class jobs are being shipped off to China and they are never coming back. Meanwhile, U.S. politicians stand by idly and do nothing.
#41 Some analysts now believe that China could become the largest economy in the world by the year 2020.
#42 If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the annual U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of four to five trillion dollars.
#43 According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is currently searching for a full-time job.
#44 The U.S. dollar continues to rapidly decline in value. An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 will cost you $112.35 today. An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 will cost you $440.33 today.
#45 Major international organizations are actually proposing that the United States start considering the adoption of a truly global currency.
#46 Students at a high school in Missouri have built a car that they claim can get up to 450 miles per gallon. On another note, some of the top energy experts in the world believe that thorium could solve our energy problems and supply very cheap energy for society for hundreds of thousands of years. But in today’s world technologies such as these are endlessly suppressed by the rich and powerful.
#47 One Colorado high school student is seeking an explanation from officials at his school after he was ordered by security guards to remove American flags from his truck because they might make other students at the high school “uncomfortable”.
#48 Three California high school students were recently forced to remove their American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.
#49 Memorial crosses erected along Utah public roads to honor fallen state troopers have been found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court and now must be removed permanently.
#50 One group of high school students made national headlines recently when they revealed that a security guard ordered them to stop singing the national anthem during a visit to the Lincoln Memorial.
Today, America’s best and brightest are graduating from college full of hopes and dreams, but cold, hard economic reality is rapidly crushing many of them. Record numbers of college graduates cannot find jobs. Hordes of others have been forced to take very low paying service jobs. At the same time, student loan debt loads have become more crushing than ever. The truth is that it is a really, really bad time to be a fresh college graduate. After spending tens of thousands of dollars and investing four (or more) years of their lives in an education, millions of recent college graduates find themselves waiting tables, tending bar, delivering pizzas and working next to (or subordinate to) people who never even went to college. At one time, a college degree was an automatic ticket to the middle class, but now for many Americans all a college degree means is crushing loan payments, sleepless nights and mind-numbing frustration.
We were always told that a college degree was supposed to prepare us for life in the real world. But today, the vast majority of college graduates end up moving back in with their parents.
In fact, a recent survey of last year’s college graduates found that 80 percent moved right back home with their parents after graduation. That was up substantially from 63 percent in 2006.
So why are 80 percent of our college graduates moving back in with their parents?
Well, because they can’t get jobs.
Two million recent college graduates are unemployed, and millions of others are working in fast food joints, at big box stores and in other very low paying service positions.
The stories that some recent college grads tell are so bizarre that they border on the unbelievable.
The Huffington Post recently featured the story of Kyle Daley – a highly qualified UCLA graduate who has been unemployed for 19 months….
I spent my time at UCLA preparing for the outside world. I had internships in congressional offices, political action committees, non-profits and even as a personal intern to a successful venture capitalist. These weren’t the run-of-the-mill office internships; I worked in marketing, press relations, research and analysis. Additionally, the mayor and city council of my hometown appointed me to serve on two citywide governing bodies, the planning commission and the open government commission. I used to think that given my experience, finding work after graduation would be easy.
At this point, however, looking for a job is my job. I recently counted the number of job applications I have sent out over the past year — it amounts to several hundred. I have tried to find part-time work at local stores or restaurants, only to be turned away. Apparently, having a college degree implies that I might bail out quickly when a better opportunity comes along.
The sad thing is that so many of these recent college graduates can’t even get hired for retail jobs. A reader of my column on The American Dream blog named Kate is a recent college graduate who is experiencing the kind of extreme frustration that so many new graduates are going through right now….
I just graduated college in May… Moved to a new state and am now living with my boyfriend who should not and cannot continue to have to pay everything because i just plain can’t get a job.
I’m over qualified for retail survivor jobs… so I lie on my application. But then retail stores just plain don’t hire full time. So even if I could get a job as a cashier someplace… I’d only work enough hours to maybe pay for my car payment/ car insurance/ gas…. and my half of rent/electric and such is out of the question… not to mention charged to the limit credit cards from being unemployed and student loans that will hit in just a matter of months.
Any other jobs either don’t exist or they just ALL want 5 years professional experience…. which is impossible for someone who just graduated and has been working part time retail jobs since high school.
But it just isn’t college graduates that are suffering. The truth is that this economic downturn has been hurting everyone….
*According to a recent Pew Research poll, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during the recession.
*A different Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of American workers have experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.
*According to another survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is currently looking for a full-time job.
For many U.S. households, the person looking for a job is a recent college graduate.
As you read this, hordes of highly qualified college grads are out applying for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, grocery checkout clerks and hamburger flippers.
Even those who are able to get decent jobs are finding themselves disappointed. Starting salaries for college graduates across the United States are down in 2010.
But why shouldn’t starting salaries be down? It is the employers that hold all the leverage – not the new graduates.
Meanwhile, many of these college graduates are graduating with crushing student debt loads. Today, many students borrow 10, 20 or even 30 thousands dollars per year while they are in school.
Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor’s degree within four years.
That is a very sad statistic.
The truth is that college courses have become so “dumbed down” in 2010 that even the family dog should be able to graduate from most U.S. colleges in four years.
Even after 6 years, that same group’s graduation rate was still only 57 percent.
But getting back to the point, every single one of those years most college students are racking up huge amounts of debt.
Today, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loans.
Student loan balances of over $50,000 are becoming quite common among our college grads. In fact, some students end up with over $100,000 in student loan debt by the time they are done.
Unfortunately, student loan debt is some of the cruelest debt out there.
Federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts, and many recent grads end up with loan payments that absolutely devastate them financially at a time when they are struggling to get on their feet and make something of themselves.
So what do you think? Can you identify with this article? Are you a recent college graduate or do you have a recent college graduate living back at home? If so, please feel free to share your story in the comments section below….
Hundreds of thousands of college students all over the United States have just graduated and are getting ready for their first taste of the real world. Unfortunately for them, the real world is not always easy and it is not always fair. In fact, for large numbers of recent college graduates, the transition to a world of high unemployment, brutal student loan payments and lowered expectations can be extremely sobering. But the truth is that we have taught these young people to have a completely unrealistic view of the future. We have told them to take out gigantic student loans without worrying about how they are going to pay them back, we have told them that if they get good grades and do everything “right” that the system will reward them with secure, fulfilling careers, and we have made high school and college so “soft and cushy” that most of these young Americans find that they don’t have the discipline and the work ethic to make it when they actually do get out into society.
So needless to say, the first six months after graduation can be a complete shock for many college graduates.
In a piece recently published on MSN Money, journalist Joe Queenan described the tough environment that 2010 college graduates are being thrown into as they enter the real world….
They will enter an economy where roughly 17% of people aged 20 through 24 do not have a job, and where two million college graduates are unemployed. They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas.
But waiting tables, delivering pizzas or greeting customers at the local Wal-Mart is not what most college graduates signed up for when they invested tens of thousands of dollars and four years (if not longer) of their lives in an education.
Unfortunately, that is where our economy is at today.
“Good jobs” are very few and far between and those freshly graduating from college are finding themselves suddenly thrust into an extremely competitive job market.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March the national rate of unemployment in the U.S. was 9.7%, but for Americans younger than 25 years of age it was 18.8%.
In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during this recession.
But what makes things even worse for college graduates is that so many of them are coming out of school with absolutely crushing student debt loads.
Today, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loans.
But it isn’t just that they have student loans. The loan balances that many of these students are graduating with these days are absolutely obscene.
The Project on Student Debt estimates that 206,000 U.S. college students graduated with more than $40,000 in student loan debt in 2008. Using 2008 dollars as a baseline, that represents a ninefold increase over the number of students graduating with that amount of debt in 1996.
Most college students don’t think much about all of the debt that they are accumulating while they are in school.
But once they get out, the sudden realization that they have gotten themselves into student loan payments that they cannot possibly handle can be completely demoralizing.
The New York Times recently profiled Cortney Munna – a recent college graduate who has not been able to get a “good job” and who now finds herself in student loan hell. She recently told the New York Times that she would be more than glad to give back her education if she could just get out of all this debt….
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back.”
In recent years, millions of young college graduates have found that the “great education” that they thought they were getting actually doesn’t get them very far at all in the real world.
In fact, they often find themselves taking jobs where they work right next to other people their age who never even went to college.
So a lot of young college graduates find themselves wishing that they could just “return” their education and get all that money back.
But there is no walking away from student loan debt.
The truth is that federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts.
Basically, once you get into student loan hell there is no escape.
So now we have hundreds of thousands of college graduates that can’t get good jobs and that have brutal student loan payments that they can’t possibly handle.
No wonder so many of them seem so angry and depressed.
But the funny thing is that so many that are still in college are so unbelievably optimistic about the future.
Edwin Koc, director of research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers says that those approaching college graduation are an extremely confident bunch….
“Over 90 percent think they have a perfect résumé. The percentage who think they will have a job in hand three months after graduation is now 57 percent. They’re still supremely confident in themselves.”
So have we done a good job of teaching them to have confidence in themselves or have we done them a disservice by allowing so many of them to live in complete denial?
The truth is that the U.S. economy is in the process of collapsing, and we need to prepare our young people for the tough times that are ahead. Life is going to require an extreme amount of hard work and discipline in the years ahead, and unfortunately those qualities are not in great supply among young Americans right now.
Actually, the “real world” is not going to be getting easier for any of us. We are all going to require an attitude adjustment if we are going to successfully navigate the difficult times that are coming. So let’s not be too hard on new college graduates and other young Americans. The truth is that the vast majority of us are “soft” at least to some degree because of the decadent society in which we live. Let’s just hope that somehow we can all find enough inner strength to endure the great challenges that are going to confront us in the years ahead.