Half of Low-Income Workers Under Age of 35 Living at Home

From the AFL-CIO’s newest report:

The career goals young workers find most important demonstrate a keen desire to move into adulthood—to achieve financial security and, above all, to have the time and resources to support a family. But although they prioritize time with family just as much as older workers, many young workers have to postpone starting families until they are more financially secure. Thirty-one percent worry very or somewhat often about this potential delay.


With the rising cost of education, it’s increasingly difficult for low-income workers to pursue the education that could help them advance. A full 54 percent of these workers worry about paying for education, compared with 24 percent of workers with incomes over $30,000. Even more disquieting, low-income workers are just as likely to live with parents as to live on their own. These results indicate that young people with incomes under $30,000 find even more roadblocks on their path to financial independence and adulthood than do young workers overall.

In fact, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, the greatest decline in employment rates since 2000 has been among those without college diplomas.

The whole report is worth a look. We get in rarefied discussions sometimes about this issues, but access and equity (and the endeavor of public education itself) is so crucial to the lives of so many people. I think that this is where I worry a bit about the “current education does more harm than good” approach. Theoretically yes, but if I had a magic wand that had to choose between instantly instantiating better education or universal access, I would choose universal access in a heartbeat.

4 thoughts on “Half of Low-Income Workers Under Age of 35 Living at Home

  1. Mike,

    I’m not sure if this is rarefied or not, but I’d don;t necessarily understand how public education right now, and it’s divestment, isn;t part of the problem. In many ways I agree with you that the system is being gutted, my issue is that comes as much from inside pressures as outside pressures. In effect, making the question of access and equity a mission that moves outside of the current channels of reform and good will to something a bit more drastic.

    I’m not sure you are quoting me, but I actually do believe the “current education model does more harm than good.” I think the equation of education with security is entirely problematic. Let’s face it, if given a choice security would always win out over freedom—just look at the 9/11 track record—and what we have here is an idea of security and financial possibility wrapped up with a sense of access and equity. Fact is, the two are often at odds with one another, and the idea of freedom remains and democracy remains a carrot to some degree, how can we call ourselves a democratic society when we fail to freely and fairly educate the whole population. Well, because we aren’t, and the education system is an amazing spoke in the flat tire that is our institutions.

    Now, I hate to turn to a TV show in a conversation like this, but I can’t help myself. Season 4 of The Wire frames for me just how insane the idea public education—which I absolutely believe in because I can’t see anything else so clearly yet, and luckily I live in a wealthy enough city that I can say this without having to wonder how I’m going to afford my kids education beyond my taxes—as not being mor harmful than good for the majority of the students who come from inner-city schools that are simply institutional factories of bullshit tests and the worst kind of socilization. I worked as an English teacher in a Brooklyn high school, Clara Barton, for almost two years. It was predominantly Black, West-Indian, and Guyanese students, and there is no question that they were amazing in so many ways, but that had nothing to do with either me or the school. In fact, I think where we came together was just how similar an innercity school like that was to a prison. It bred mistrust, absolute disrespect for authority (which may be one of its strengths 🙂 ), inane curriculum, mindless petty acts of control and subordination, and a general feeling that is all but antithetical to an sense of freedom and democracy. Our institutions at the space of immediate and intimate experience are often as far from any of the ideals we abstract out from them.

    Pragmatic calls for reform and better education seems to elide the fact that that reforms is premised within a system that has made it a priority of distinguishing these low-income students from high-income through an insane idea of local, tax-based funding that perpetuates the very ideas of inequality along economic lines. And this is where I am done with reform and some institutional idea of universal access and convinced we have the tools already and we simply have to frame a movement outside that tax base. Beyond it, I don;t know how, and I can only dream—but I believe there will be a way and it is important to work within the systems we’re given to survive—although I had to leave Clara Barton because I increasingly was feeling more and more like a fascist and it was truly horrifying—and strive for as much equity as we can, but always knowing that their has to be a tidal wave of change along class, race, and gender lines. And it won;t be comfortable or secure—it will be frightening and most probably highly contentious.

  2. Sorry Jim, I wasn’t quoting you directly. But yes this deals with our discussion.

    We really need to have this discussion F2F or something though, b/c I feel wires are getting crossed.

    Here’s what I realized on my walk just now to get caffeine. Or not so much *realized* but kind of saw end-to-end for the first time.

    Institutions have power, and that power is enforced by budgets. Everyone wants to talk a good game about innovative pedagogy, but then say — well, if only we had the money.

    Edupunk is important b/c it negates that argument. In the battle between the connectivists and the traditionalists, Edupunk is essentially asymmetric warfare. So the importance of it is we can tell the grassroots — hey, look, you can create a more effective learning environment — and it’s actually cheaper. In fact, it’s near free, which frees you from this problem of IT or Finance and Planning telling you how you can teach (and trying to dictate that centrally). So let’s stop talking about money and start talking about teaching.

    Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes.

    Then there’s another group of people that are not grassroots activists. And they are not really interested in connectivism either. In fact, an awful lot of them think connectivism is hippie crap just like constructivism before it, and if only students would memorize the dates of the Revolutionary War and double their math drills Google could get American software engineers at rates competitive with India.

    They are allied with a bunch of people that are really upset that their tax dollars go to institutions who teach their kids the earth is more than 6,000 years old, and with a bunch of people enraged that their kids go to school with scary brown people. And they all like the marketeers, because the marketeers say they’d be happy to provide an evolution-free and brown-people-free science education if only we went to the glorious voucher system.

    And what these people have latched onto is this idea that education can be really, really, cheap. The end game is to let everyone take their money out of the system, which will solve the brown people problem, the teacher’s union problem, and the dinosaur problem all in one fell swoop. And they plan to do this by saying we shouldn’t be spending all this money on education, because the market does it so much cheaper. And they will start to gut it.

    Don’t get me wrong. K-12 is a mess. In fact, it is the dystopic future that the American College is now cruising towards. I don’t know how to fix it.

    But even in Queens you did something. Some of those kids, I am guessing, had parents that worked during the day, and you watched them. Without that, what hope would there be for any of them?

    At the Hacking Education conference there was a sizable contingent of the corporate voucher crowd. You know what thy want to do? They want to “shut down the prisons”

    If there’s a way out of this mess it’s not shutting down the schools, which would essentially lock us into the rigid class system conservatives have been dreaming of for years and take the de facto segregation they have been pursuing the final 10 yards.

    If there is a way out of this mess, it’s likely to make those schools the center of a community effort, to insist that communities do have the right for self-governance and that the education of your child is in fact (as much as it is hard for parents like us to admit this) a community affair. It probably means that we have to look at schools that partner with the community, not as experts lecture the local dullards, but as true partners.

    If real change – the tidal wave of change – is to come, it is going to come that way, by redirecting the aims of the institutions. And I think that college right now, for all its issues, is perhaps a beachhead in that effort. You think that HE is screwed when you look at some of what goes on — but then you talk to someone in the insane world of K-12 and you realize no, we’re not screwed. Not nearly. Or rather, we are not screwed *yet*.

    Whether we look like the nightmare of K-12 in 10 years, or whether we are the healthy influence that helps to pull K-12 policy out of it’s current dissociative state, time will tell.

    I think, looking at this, that we are actually in agreement. We need to do all we do on the edges right now, because it is the only way that we can start to show people the possibilities. But we have to insist that it is not about bringing the cost of education down — it is about increasing access and quality, of giving an education that empowers student instead of molding them.

    “People make things possible,” says one friend of mine, “but institutions make them last.” I think that remains true, even today. We are in the making possible stage, and the institutions are often huge obstacles to education done right. But just as we got 30 years of Reaganism when we let people believe that bad government proved government was bad, we could end up ushering in 30 years bad educational policy by letting people believe bad educational institutions prove educational institutions are bad. It’s such a subtle difference, but it means all the world. The point of using the cheap tools is not to undermine the institutions that are so necessary for our future, but to shape them by stepping out of their reach temporarly while we unveil what is possible. The endgame is (for me, and I think for you) to eventually bring what we create back into the heart of the institution so that it can last well beyond our individual efforts.

    I think we both agree on this. If we don’t, I suggest that any future conversation on the subject be handled over beers.

  3. “I would like to create positive influence in my community, have a hand in changing the world, and make a difference to those around me. I’m passionate about serving youth, counseling those with addictions, feeding the hungry, and educating others on the importance of caring for our environment. I feel that AmeriCorps is the best avenue for me to -get my feet wet- regarding the change I want to be.”

    When I began my AmeriCorps Service year, the above statement was my motivation. I wanted to “be the change”. During my service year I tutored 35 GED students, watched the first male in an immigrant household graduate highschool, Mentored 100’s of kids battling with addiction, walked with two girls as they forgave their rapist, planted 450 native plants along a salmon habitat, restored a historical site, built a single mom a house, raised $13,000 for a skate park, Built a community dog park, helped foster and home 250 unwanted pets and fulfilled my desire to SERVE!

    Those of you who have served with AmeriCorps, and have disliked your term of service. The BLAME lies on your own head. If you were sitting around doing nothing, why didn’t you go OUT THERE and Find some one who needed help?

    Your service year is what YOU make it. You can choose to use your hands for service or for blogging to the world about how you failed the rest of us by NOT making this experience all that it can be.

    Meanwhile, I will serve my community and enjoy every minute!

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