“Where is the shared prosperity?” West wondered out loud before the student journalists, blaming the media for failing to get the word out about poverty in America and saying that major media outlets had devoted a mere 0.2 percent of their coverage to poverty in this year’s election.
The unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year-olds is estimated at 12.5 to 14 percent, which likely explains why many Hofstra students –– and young people in general –– see job creation as the No. 1 issue in this year’s presidential election.
Thomas Uddo, 24, of Ronkonkoma, in Suffolk County, is a student in Hofstra’s graduate journalism program and the managing editor of Long Island Report. He said jobs –– or, rather, the paucity of them –– is weighing heavily on students, many of whom have taken out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to finance their educations –– money they must begin to repay six months after graduation.
Jobs are “huge,” said Uddo, adding that he knows a number of young people who have taken $40,000 to $50,000 in student loans. “Finding a way to pay that back is tough.”
Despite a trying job market, Uddo said he believes many young people will vote for President Obama. “A lot of younger kids are going to stick with what they know,” he said. “They know Obama.”
In 2008, Obama captured 66 percent of the youth vote, according to the Pew Research Center, but with unemployment remaining stubbornly high for young people, recent polls show Obama’s support among 20-somethings slipping.
It remains to be seen whether voter turnout among young people will reach the historic levels seen in 2008, when an estimated 24 million Americans ages 18 to 29 –– or more than 50 percent of eligible voters in that age bracket –– cast their ballots in the presidential election, many for the first time. Indications are that enthusiasm for presidential politics has waned to a degree among the young.
“I don’t think it’s as big as 2008,” said Uddo, referring to this year’s presidential election. “2008 was revolutionary.”