Today's young adults are coming of age in a tough economy, on the heels of 30 years of declining economic opportunity and security for all but the most affluent and most highly educated. These changes are quite evident in Ohio, where the once-mighty manufacturing sector that provided better-than-average jobs in the 1960s and 1970s has eroded, hitting young adults particularly hard. Although many of the levers of opportunity that once fueled and defined America's middle class have weakened or broken, a reorientation could restore opportunity and provide today's young adults with a more secure economic future.
This report provides a comprehensive portrait of today's young adults in Ohio and, where possible, compares their economic status to that of the previous generation. The term "young adults" in the report generally refers to 18- to 34-year-olds. The report is organized into four key areas: post- secondary education, employment and earnings, debt and assets and raising a family. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations that would help rebuild and restore the middle class.