This Week in Family
The government shutdown is finally over, but for hundreds of thousands of federal employees who went 35 days without pay—and for contractors who may not receive any back pay—the financial toll is ongoing. Families who struggled to pay the bills during the longest government shutdown in American history are still playing catch-up with college tuition, car payments, and other expenses. “For all of the merits of working for the government, it has shown me some of the disadvantages of working on something that’s at the mercy of politics,” one contractor told the Atlantic staff writer Joe Pinsker. And if Congress and the president can’t reach a funding deal by February 15, many families will yet again find themselves in a precarious situation.
Thirty-nine percent of working adults in the United States have saved up enough for five years of retirement, but by one measure, grandparent couples spend more than $2,000 a year supporting their grandchildren—a number that has risen considerably over the past decade. That average is undoubtedly skewed by wealthier and white Americans, who can more easily give away money. But at the same time, Robin Marantz Henig explains, the growth of intergenerational financial support in recent years could also indicate that the social safety net isn’t adequately keeping young Americans afloat—children under the age of 18 are twice as likely to be living in poverty.