The government, businesses and people in the United States were $۵۹.۴ trillion in debt at the end of the first quarter of ۲۰۱۴, according to the latest economic data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve.
The figure is up by some $۵۰۰ billion from the end of the fourth quarter of ۲۰۱۳. Total debt (the combination of government, business, mortgage, and consumer debt) was $۲.۲ trillion ۴۰ years ago, according to the data.
“In ۵۰ short years, debt has gone from being a luxury for a few to a convenience for many to an addiction for most to a disease for all,” James Butler wrote in an Independent Voters Network (IVN) op-ed.
“It is a virus that has spread to every aspect of our economy, from a consumer using a credit card to buy a $۰.۷۵ candy bar in a vending machine to a government borrowing $۱۷ trillion to keep the lights on,” he wrote.
Economists say debt is hurting young adults the most.
A recent survey by Wells Fargo found that Millennials are spending at least half their monthly paychecks on paying off debt.
According to a University of Arizona study, two years out of college, half of all graduates are still relying on their parents or other family members for some sort of financial help. Only ۴۹ percent of graduates are working full-time, the study said.
"Whether or not a weak labor market is increasing the need for intergenerational support – a likely driver in today's economy -- our data clearly showed that many young adults today may not be earning enough to make it on their own, even when working full time," the report said.
“What we have done to our young people is shameful. We have encouraged them to sign up for a lifetime of debt slavery before they even understand what life is all about,” Michael Snyder wrote in an InfoWars op-ed.
Citing the Congressional Budget Office, The Guardian said the US economy will stall by ۲۰۱۷ because Americans will continue spending, but wages and wealth won’t be going up. As a result, the British newspaper said, income inequality in the United States will increase.