2024 State of Economic Equity Report Examines Young Adults’ Economic, Mental Health

March 26, 2024

ST. LOUIS – The percentage of young people who have no wage income and the rate of depression among young adults are rising, potentially affecting their well-being, according to the 2024 State of Economic Equity report by the St. Louis Fed’s Institute for Economic Equity.

The annual report examined the nation’s current economic outlook through an equity lens. Specifically, the report looked at the labor market and the economic and mental health of U.S. residents ages 18 to 24.

Among the report’s findings are:

  • In 2022, more than 1 in 3 young adults (ages 18 to 24) reported no wage or salary income, up from 1 in 5 in 1990.
  • Since 2017, the share of young adults reporting depression has both risen and diverged from the share of older adults reporting depression. By 2022, the depression rate among young adults was 50% higher than it was among older adults, which deepens economic disparities.
  • For young adults, variations in financial well-being are wide: Roughly three-quarters of white and Asian young adults reported doing at least OK financially, while just over half of Black and Hispanic young adults said the same.
  • Narrowing demographic income and wealth disparities can impact the broader economy: More-equitable wealth outcomes could help generate economic growth and innovation.
  • Investments in young adults could increase their ability to interact with the economy while enhancing worker productivity, innovation and growth.

“The Institute for Economic Equity focused on the economic well-being of young adults because they are the future of our nation. What the institute found were multiple areas of concern that even the strongest labor market since World War II has not been able to substantially improve. If not fully addressed, they could have widespread and long-lasting impact on the U.S. economy,” William M. Rodgers III, economist and director of the institute, said.

In addition to assessing the economic well-being of young adults, the State of Economic Equity highlighted how one educational institution, the Paducah Innovation Hub in Kentucky, is helping young people build skills and explore career opportunities.

To read the full report, visit stlouisfed.org.

Contact Shera Dalin

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