Pew Research Center study confirms that young adults have been hit hardest by unemployment and underemployment during the economic downturn.
Drawing on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and a survey of more than 2,000 American adults, the Pew Research Center has released a study showing that young job seekers have suffered significant setbacks in the current labor market.
Some of the study’s key findings include:
- Young adults were hit hardest by the recession. Government statistics confirm public perception regarding the inability of younger workers to find jobs. Since 2010, the percentage of young adults ages 18 to 24 currently employed (54%) has been its lowest since the government began collecting these data in 1948.
- Employment inequality exists between generations. According to the Pew study, the employment gap between the young and all working-age adults (approximately 15 percentage points) represents the widest disparity in recorded history.
- Young adults have it harder than their parents. Eight in ten (82%) of survey respondents believe that finding a job is harder for young adults today than it was for their parents’ generation. Approximately the same percentage believes it is now harder for younger workers to save for the future (75%), pay for college (71%) or buy a home (69%).
- Older adults have weathered the recession better than the young. A 2004 Pew Research survey showed that similar numbers of young adults (50%), middle-aged adults (52%) and older adults (50%) believed their personal financial situations were “excellent” or “good.” In 2011, the study showed a growing gap between 65+ older adults and the rest of the U.S. workforce. While 54% of older adults gave their personal financial situation a high rating, only one-third of younger and middle-aged adults shared a similar perspective about their financial outlook.
- Younger workers anticipate high levels of career mobility. Only 30% of all 18-34 year olds consider their current job to be a “career” compared to 52% of workers over the age of 35. This could indicate a trend of increased career mobility among young adults.