Tags: College | Work | Crisis | students

College Is Replacing Work Now, Causing Crisis Later

By Michael Carr   |   Wednesday, 07 Mar 2012 10:18 AM

More Americans than ever before aren't working, according to some reports.

Nearly 88 million working-age adults have chosen not to work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since they can’t be considered unemployed if they are doing exactly what they want to do, all those idle hands have helped lower the official unemployment rate.

Millions of those people without jobs are accepting government benefits. While debates about entitlement reforms generally start with Social Security and Medicare, a large number of young adults are choosing not to work and benefitting from entitlements.

More than half of all young adults have usually been in the work force. Since World War II, the only sustained drop below that level occurred in the 1960s. At that time, many men chose college over work to earn a draft deferment. Since 2000, the number of young adults choosing to work has again fallen below 50 percent and reached a record low of 30.8 percent in January 2012.

There are at least nine federal programs offering student aid and more than 600 state programs supplementing that. Many students are attending classes with little or no out-of-pocket expenses after grants. Loans can provide enough to meet everyday living expenses for a low-budget college student.

College is an investment in the future, but with more students than ever in college it is very likely that some will be disappointed in the investment results.

In the years to come, these young scholars will need to repay about $1 trillion in student loans.

Future economic growth will probably be hurt by high student-loan payments.

One way the government could boost productivity would be by encouraging the young to work by reducing student aid.

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