Judy Woodruff and the Generation Next team criss-crossed the country last summer to gauge and document the views of 16-25 year olds. NewsHour presents excerpts from the documentary.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, NewsHour Special Correspondent:
Raised by his mother and grandfather, Chaz grew up in this tough Columbus neighborhood, staying clear of trouble while many of his friends did not. Now 20 years old, he tried college a couple of times but never finished.
CHAZ HILLMON, Community Center Worker:
And since I needed a job to pretty much help run the household, I pretty much had to put school on hold for a while. But since working at Community House, they are able to pay for me to go back to school, as long as I go for my early childhood development degree.
Chaz loves his work at the community center, but still struggles to get by.
I have college loans from when I went to OSU. I have credit card bills. I have cell phone bills. I'm about to have the utilities of my house put in my name.
There's just so much financial burden, it's stressful, that I'm trying to balance the needs and my wants. And I'm trying to take care of the bills, but also trying to make sure that I have enough money where I can get groceries and have enough money to maintain my car, make sure that it's up and running, make sure I have gas in it. It's just hard to just think about it.
Not long ago, people with just a high school diploma or even without one could count on a well-paying, usually blue-collar job, most protected by labor unions with benefits and pensions. Not anymore.
Although the economy has continued to grow, many new jobs today are in the low-paying service sector, frequently with no benefits at all. This lack of opportunity for those with less education is a grim reality for this generation, one that only promises to grow worse, especially in the face of expanding global competition.