There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
If the jobs you can get in an area won't cover your minimum living expenses and savings simultaneously, then you need to change the equation. Either look for employment somewhere where you can live cheaper or learn a skill or trade that can command higher pay.
That is exactly why people move to the city. More jobs, better jobs, better pay. People living beyond the suburbs are being replaced by machines and other mechanisms that result in sub-livable wages at rates faster than those in the cities. At any location on this planet though there is a cost of living, and when people can't meet that, they have to make a decision. And if people are only meeting that cost of living, they aren't going to be able to save any money.
This isn't about art history majors graduating college and wondering why they can't find jobs. There are plenty of people who pursued education and training in more marketable fields who then find there is still adequate competition for the path they prepared for that they aren't able to bring in enough money to put anything into retirement until they are at least into their mid-30s. It's also about the fact that "get up and move" isn't as straightforward as it sounds for many people. Even young people with zero dependents still need transportation to get to wherever they are going to move to, and if they are moving across national boundaries they need the proper documentation to do so.
Have some people failed the economy for various crap choices of their own? Certainly. However an even larger number of people have been failed by the economy. Every day more people wake up and realize "holy shit, I'm in my 40s and I have zero dollars saved for retirement - my best hope is to die at work now". Many of these people never had a chance, in spite of what they were told in high school.
My number for median income came from a different wikidpedia page: Personal_income_in_the_United_States. But $28k is close enough that the difference isn't really relevant.
A difference of $2k is huge in that realm of income; we're talking about roughly 8% of the total pre-tax income. You also have not addressed the fact that people in that income bracket tend to pay ~30-35% in taxes between federal and state, so if they are puling in $30k pre-tax they are closer to $20k after taxes. If they are spending $1k per month on housing that leaves them with less than $8k for everything else for the year.
Even sprawling metropolitan areas like Los Angeles have them within ~60 miles from the city center and that's ignoring low cost areas within the city.
A 60 mile commute is not reasonable for most people, especially those of limited income. If you are making $30k or less, the odds of you having reliable transportation that can do 120 miles / day is very low. On top of that most jobs that pay that little have little to no stability or worker support, so if the employee's car breaks down once on their way to work now they likely have a car needing repair and they are out of a job.
And yes, compound interest favors saving when you're younger. That's a damn good reason to start saving as soon as you have income, not an excuse for delaying retirement.
Again, you are making a huge sweeping assumption that people are pulling in enough money to be able to saving money when they are younger. Very few people are actually in that situation right out of college or high school, for the reasons I just laid out above.
The cost of basic needs (food, water, basic shelter) are a fraction of the median personal income (~$30,000/yr)
First of all, the median personal income is below $30k for the country, and some places it is below that by quite a bit. The national median is closer to $28k per person. However there are many many different costs of living distributed throughout the country, and within any given community your own cost of living is influenced by who you live with, how far you travel to work, the transportation infrastructure, etc. There are plenty of places in this country where an individual cannot save money if they are living alone on $30k, in fact they are likely accumulating substantial debt at that wage - particularly once you deduct the taxes they pay on their income.
You are also overlooking the fact that compound interest favors those who can save money at at earlier time in their lives. Few workers can save money towards retirement before their mid-late 30s any more, and at that point it is almost too late unless they plan to work until they are 80.
JesseMcDonald (536341) has made you their foe.
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