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Why young Americans are pessimistic

Hardesty believes the American dream may no longer be obtainable, and one reason is because she and many of her peers can no longer afford to buy homes.

Another TikTok user, real estate agent, Freddie Smith, points out that the housing crisis isn’t just a problem for now, but could create long-term economic problems. If young people aren't able to have homes now, they may never be able to retire in the future.

Many people purchase a home to build wealth via equity. But if young people rent for their entire lives, they can’t do that, which could fuel a retirement crisis. The median price of a house in the U.S. is $417,700, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, a figure that puts obtaining a mortgage out of reach for many Americans.

The median yearly earnings for 25- to 34-year-olds is $56,160, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You’d have to get pretty thrifty if you wanted to make a 20% down payment ($83,540) that’s a year and a half's worth of salary.

“It seems like no matter how many hours you put in, you’re getting nowhere,” Hardesty said.

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Economic revolution

At the end of her video, Hardesty issues a call to action for her viewers: vote for younger candidates.

“The old white men sitting in the White House don’t care about us,” she said. “So we have to care.”

Some young Americans find their political leaders uninspiring, especially as they watch two men who are way past retirement age face off against each other — again — in the 2024 presidential election, according to testimonies published by the New York Times.

Hardesty feels that young people must get involved in political action if they want to feel represented, and that more action by young people could restore hope for these generations.

“Millennials and Gen Z are going to inherit a system that is broken,” Hardesty explained, “And we’re going to have to replace it all.”


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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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