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By Doug Bair
October 17, 2014
Credit : Doug Bair.

An abstract art gallery that plays indie covers of pop music from the 1990s could easily be described as a Millennial hangout; however, for the last two days, discussions at one particular art gallery in Washington, D.C. weren’t about the abstract art or refurbished vintage furniture but rather economic policy’s role in a post-Great Recession world.

Hosts, the New America Foundation, Young Invincibles, and the Roosevelt Campus Network, dubbed it Millennials Rising: A Cross-Cutting Policy Symposium that highlighted policy solutions for problems that Millennials encounter from education to wealth to innovation.

“You have to marry policy and technology,” New America’s President and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter said opening the symposium. “It has to be connected to communities.”

A range of panels over the following days then examined these policy solutions that highlighted facts from new papers published for the symposium.

“We have to talk about debt and the entire family balance sheet,” Ray Boshara of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said. “We have this new economic divide in America between strugglers and thrivers.”

Boshara’s co-authored paper addressed the life-cycle of wealth and income for Millennials with the call for public policy to adjust according to the new structural changes in the economy such as labor market opportunities and employment practices that have gravitated toward more freelance and contract work.

The discussion of labor market trends and employment practices quickly transitioned to the economic mobility in America between classes in today’s post-Recession environment.

“The middle class has been flatlined,” Elisabeth Jacobs said, Senior Director for Policy and Academic Programs at the Washington Center for Economic Growth. “We tax money at the top very different due to our country’s tax code, so we don’t necessarily have the resources we should have (for economic equality).”

Conversation dove deeper into the economic well-being of the country by honing in on specific indexes and indicators that help gauge Millennials’ role in the overall U.S. economy.

“We are a generation that is diverse in many different ways. We see these policy issues in a very intersectional way. This data represents the life experiences we all have,” Generation Progress’ Policy Director Sarah Audelo said. “We have to look at how the youth of color are doing, too, like the unemployment rates.”

Betsey Stevenson, a member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, culminated these panel discussions by examining new data released by the White House last week and provided one positive outlook for Millennials’ economic outlook.

“Millennials have an ace in their pocket to overcome this recession because they are the most educated generation,” Stevenson said.

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