Valerie Strauss has a column describing a puzzle: younger Americans, ages 18-34, are more educated than their parents’ generation, but making less money.


Your guess is as good as mine, but here is my guess. Inequality is growing; the middle class is less secure. The “reformers” want everyone to go to college, but they do nothing to address the shrinkage of jobs, especially jobs that pay what college graduates are led to expect. All their “reform” blather is a convenient way of diverting attention from growing wage inequality and growing wealth inequality.


Strauss writes:


Young adults in the United States today — those Americans from 18 to 34 years old — are on average earning less than their counterparts 35 years ago, but more have a college degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

This piece on the bureau’s blog says that earnings among young adults range from state to state across the country, with some states seeing an increase. In Massachusetts, for example, young adults earn on average $6,500 more annually, adjusted for inflation; in Virginia, they earn $4,100 more. But states where there have been big declines are “Michigan, Wyoming and Alaska where young adults earn at least $9,000 less than they did 30 years ago,” the blog post says.

What does this all say about America today and the earning prospects for young people? The post says:

Young adults’ experiences may reflect a rise in inequality. Since the 1980s, income inequality for households and families has gone up at the same time as the country as a whole has become more educated. The picture that emerges from these statistics reveals a generation of young adults who may be, at once, both better and worse off than their parents.