The cost of living in the United States has left many with a sense of hopelessness; the pandemic, unemployment and housing shortage has middle to lower-class households struggling to stay afloat. Especially in heavily populated areas, the housing market seems impossible to enter for first-time home buyers. And with no guaranteed job security and a lack of affordable housing, many younger generations are also choosing to push back starting families. The United States’ individualistic economic mindset has left many Americans unable to catch up financially.
Across the United States, there is currently a surge in the housing market with housing prices increasing by 17%. As millennials enter the workforce, many want to start to settle down and buy houses, but due to a housing shortage, many first-time homebuyers are being priced out. Not being able to afford a home makes it extremely difficult to find stability, especially amongst younger generations who move into the workforce after college and aren’t able to find housing in major cities. Older generations who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic are struggling to pay their mortgages. When medical, loan and living expenses start to pile up, it can lead to extreme stress. At its peak, the unemployment rate in the United States due to COVID-19 was 14.4%. This high unemployment has affected both older and younger generations, who are starting to lose job security in the workforce. When this is compared to the time before the pandemic when the rate was just below 4%, the impact is obvious.
Low-income households are constantly struggling to stay afloat. Lower and middle-class families are spending 80% of their budget on housing, food, healthcare and clothing. For low-income households, over 40% of their budget alone goes toward housing. Many of these households are surviving on a monthly basis. Families and individuals who survive paycheck to paycheck are affected the most by rising unemployment. Many Americans are having to take up multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. With such high levels of poverty, it’s no surprise that the United States has seen a decline in birth rates. Younger people are making the financial decision to not have kids until they can afford them. And for many, that’s not going to be for a very long time.
The truth is, the American dream is something that only belongs to those who are born into it. For many Americans, this glamorized capitalistic dream of buying a home with a white picket fence, having two kids and owning a family dog is never going to be a reality. This dream is passed down between generations, from old money to new money. White Americans possess the luxury of having college-educated parents and trust funds.
The government desperately needs to pay more attention to the needs of the American people. In order to survive, people need higher wages, affordable housing and better healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this situation all the more dire. The government needs to prioritize the lower class and make it more affordable to live in this country. As we continue to navigate this deadly pandemic, the American people shouldn’t back down from demanding more. Nobody should be forced to work multiple jobs just to afford groceries for their family. People entering the workforce shouldn’t be left to sleep in their cars because they can’t afford housing. Trips to the hospital shouldn’t be putting people thousands of dollars in debt. Millions of people are breaking their backs trying to survive 一 their voices shouldn’t go unheard.