The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Capitalism Traps the Young:
A Fight Could Open New Doors

Dec 9, 2019

More adult children are living with their parents or grandparents. One third of 25 to 29-year-olds still live at home, according to a 2018 Pew study. That’s the highest portion at any time since this statistic was studied. Only in the 1880s was there another era in which so many young adults were living with their parents!

This society, the wealthiest in the world, pretends young people must accept this as “the new normal”—this over-crowded situation, this lower standard of living. This is a lie!

The trend of young people living with parents is increasing for black, Hispanic, white, and Asian households. The lower the income of the young person, the more likely they live at home, according to another recent study.

Why? Most young working class people are in low-wage jobs with no benefits, working in restaurants, stores, warehouses and factories. But if the minimum wage of 1968—the year the minimum wage peaked—had kept pace with worker productivity growth since 1968, the lowest wage today would be over $20 an hour!

Today, many jobs require a college degree. But college is expensive. The high schools available to working class people don’t prepare them well for college. If they get a degree, there is no guarantee of a job—but there is a guarantee they will have to pay off debt accumulated to go there.

Since 2000, student debt has more than tripled. Higher student debt was the reason given by 42% of 25-to-34-year-olds for living with their parents.

Young people who enter the workforce today earn less than their parents and grandparents. A 2016 study at Stanford University compared kids born in 1940 with kids born in 1980. More than 90% of kids born in 1940 ended up earning more money than their parents. For kids born in 1980, only 50% were earning more at age 30.

Even when young people are “on their own,” 59% of parents are helping their adult children financially.

This society has the resources, the wealth, and the technology to provide a decent life for the next generation of workers. This is not a problem of individual families nor individual young people. It is a social problem that requires an organized, militant response.

In revolutions of the past, it was often the young who were first to express their public outrage, the ones able to spark a reaction and wake up the fighting spirit of the older generations who came out to support the young. Organizing to improve conditions is the only road that has ever brought relief for the working class. It is a road with open possibilities for a better life.