Between 2000 and 2012, the employment rate for Millennials fell from 84 percent to 72 percent.
For Millennials, the traditional path that leads from school to work and then on to retirement has taken some long and winding turns, according to a new Georgetown University study.
Many young Americans are struggling to make the transition from youth dependency to adult independence, with only one out of three Millennials in their early 20s and just over half of adults in their late 20s employed in full-time jobs, the study finds. Further, Millennials’ labor force participation has returned to 1972 levels, a decline that began in the late 1990s and accelerated beginning in 2000.
These trends, coupled with the epochal Great Recession, has been “a lost decade” for Millennials, marked by declining access to full-time jobs. Between 2000 and 2012, the employment rate for young people fell from 84 percent to 72 percent. Those particularly impacted include:
· Young men, whose rate of full-time employment fell from 80 percent to 65 percent
· Young adults with no education past high school, whose employment rate fell from 66 percent to 53 percent
· Young African-Americans, whose peak post-recession unemployment rate was 30 percent, twice as high as that youn young whites
Over the past three decades, the age at which young workers reach the median wage has increased from 26 to 30. For young African-Americans, the age at which they earn a decent salary has increased to 33.
Meanwhile, college-educated older workers, especially women, are staying the labor market longer, the report finds. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of Baby Boomer women ages 55 and older were employed in 2010, compared to 42 percent in 1987. Among adults 65 and older, those with a graduate degree are twice as likely to still be working as those who have earned their high school diploma.
But the report does not blame Baby Boomers’ slower departure from the work force to be a factor in Millennials’ declining employment. “In fact, the large number of retirements of Baby Boomers is creating more job openings per young person today than there were in the 1990s, when employment of young people was more robust,” the report finds.
What is keeping from Millennials from achieving lift-off from the career on-ramp, the study concludes, is the need for post-high school skill development in a “new knowledge economy” that requires more advanced skills. “The United States needs to find ways to enhance the productivity of its human capital development system, first by promoting transparency to ensure that students and their families fully understand the value proposition of education and second by streamlining curricula to promote college affordability, completion, and the acquisition of competencies with labor market value,” the report states.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.