The mobility trap is here, and it has been sprung, and people are stuck.
U.S. mobility for young adults has fallen to the lowest level in more than 50 years as cash-strapped 20-somethings shun home-buying and refrain from major moves in a weak job market.
The new 2013 figures from the Census Bureau, which reversed earlier signs of recovery, underscore the impact of the sluggish economy on young people, many of them college graduates, whom demographers sometimes refer to as "Generation Wait."
Burdened with college debt or toiling in low-wage jobs, they are delaying careers, marriage and having children. Waiting anxiously for their lucky break, they are staying put and doubling up with roommates or living with Mom and dad, unable to make long-term plans or commit to buying a home - let alone pay a mortgage.
When you force people to put their live on hold, it resonates through society. Not only are marketers and planners going to take advantage of people who are now reluctant to make big changes in their lives--a sales pitch designed to help someone take a risk-free step into owning their home can't be far away--but that lack of risk is going to create stagnation and economic problems that are hard to identify right now. It's going to lead to people inheriting more property than they go out and acquire themselves--a new legal or real estate specialty could pop up in the area of figuring out how to keep the home that someone was raised in and lived in virtually all of their adult lives. Social media has exploded at exactly the point where fewer and fewer people have anything to say about what they're doing with their lives because, well, who can afford it? Do people who are out actually living their lives really care whether they've updated their social status?
The American economy thrives when people take risks--especially when it comes to small business creation and innovation. That's being stifled right now.