By Sarah Lovenheim
President Obama shared his budget proposal for the nation earlier this week. It includes a series of suggested policy reforms with dollar amounts attached for Congress to consider. Here are three big ideas that should resonate with most Millennials, given the state of our economy:
1) The unemployment rate for our generation is nearly 40% higher than for everyone else, and President Obama proposes to tackle this by investing in job training:
Fellow Millennials are pursuing higher education in higher droves than ever before and yet, the unemployment rate for our generation outpaces the national average. For young black adults, unemployment is much worse — young black adults face an unemployment rate that’s more than two and a half times higher than their peers. In the years ahead, higher education will be even more critical to better prepare all Millennials for the job market, and job-training programs, too.
The President’s budget takes the right steps to do this: It increases funding for Job Corps, Youthbuild and Youth Activities supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and sets aside $2 billion over four years for an Apprenticeship Training Fund. Apprenticeships have proven time and time again to pay off for young people who benefit from such programs, their employers, and taxpayers! When our generation’s working, everyone wins (young adult unemployment costs taxpayers pay $25 billion per year).
Additionally, the President’s budget would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and investments to help college graduates. In today’s tough economy, where career prospects are down for our generation, this is an important step to better prepare our generation for today’s workforce.
2) Tuition has skyrocketed roughly 80% over the last decade, and it’s time to confront rising college costs:
Student loan debt has piled high to roughly $1.2 trillion across the country, while Millennial wages have fallen by 10 percent. Our generation isn’t able to save money (the latest Millennial savings rate is -.2%) and is delaying making major life decisions – such as buying a car or starting a family. Higher education is more valuable and necessary today than ever before to set our generation up for decent paying jobs and careers, so it’s time for the country, as the President signaled, to drive down tuition costs.
The President’s proposal increases college accessibility and affordability and takes steps to make student loan repayment easier. It would provide free community college tuition to qualifying students and protect the value of the Pell Grant. Decades ago, Pell grants covered nearly the full cost of community college for low-income students. Today, they cover just about half of the total cost.
By 2020, 65% of jobs in the U.S. will require education beyond high school, a goal that our nation will fail to reach if lawmakers do not seize the moment to invest in higher education. We hope Congress gives this portion of the President’s budget the attention it deserves, in particular.
3) One in five young adults nationwide are uninsured; the President’s plan would support important health care services that especially benefit our generation:
Access to health care is essential for our generation – we end up in the emergency room more than any other age group, except the elderly. And we’re often the generation that’s least able to afford high medical bills.
The President’s budget continues to fully fund implementation of the Affordable Care Act – the law that has made low-cost health coverage available to millions of people across the country (nearly 10 million in just the past few months). It also continues to fully fund Medicaid expansion, which has yet to happen in every state across the country but is hopefully on its way: Low-income young adults who qualify for Medicaid likely cannot afford health care in the federal Marketplace.
Beyond that, it expands funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, commonly referred to as CHIP. Millions of kids get health care through CHIP and the President’s proposal sends a strong signal to Congress, particularly, given Congress has suggested it might cut funding for CHIP. Let’s hope not!
To learn more about the President’s budget proposal and how it affects Millennials, check out our fact sheet here.