Young people are facing longer and more difficult paths to quality work as higher education has become more valuable in the labor market – and these pathways are not the same for people of different races and genders.
This is the main result of two new reports released Thursday by Georgetown University’s Center for Education and Workforce. Most of the oldest Millennials didn’t get a good job until the early 1930s, reports found. On the contrary, older members of the baby boomer generation mostly found good jobs by the mid-20s.
According to reports, as we age, the proportion of millennial people with good work began to outpace the proportion of boomers when they were the same age. But a longer transition period could still mean consequences for the younger generation, such as not being able to repay student loans, buy a house or chase new dreams.
“While young people, especially if they are on the path to a bachelor’s degree, can catch up with what the previous generation had, this delay has real implications for what they can do with their lives,” said Catherine Peltier Campbell, a researcher. Director of Editorial Policy Georgetown CEW and one of the authors of the reports.
The reports identified three main barriers for young people seeking quality work: rising costs for higher education, limited access to high-quality job training, and inadequate counseling and career services. They said these barriers are exacerbated by discrimination.
“Today, young people have more equal access to opportunities than previous generations, but their chances of success in the US economy are far from fair,” said one report, which focused on how racial and gender biases block access to good work.
Georgetown CEW has long studied how higher education affects students ’career outcomes. He has published reports over the past eight months comparing salaries for college students vs. high school graduates, highlighting colleges which offer low-income students a high return on investment and show how significantly additional levels of education increase lifetime earnings.
In short, the center found that more education in general means higher salaries. But the student’s occupation, field of study, choice of college and program matter.
Thursday’s reports stand out because they show that layers of interrelated factors, such as family background and degree choices, affect life outcomes. These elements are working together to limit opportunities among the current generation of young workers in ways that are different from the experiences of previous generations, Campbell said.
“There’s a feedback cycle,” Campbell said. “It’s a cascading effect of the system on what opportunities the system has for young people depending on their race, class and gender.”
Reports express concern about the current dynamics.
“The gap in education, which affects the likelihood of getting a good job, calcifies the socio-economic disparities between those who have and those who do not, limiting the upward movement and fueling resentment towards the class,” the report said.
Today’s workers need more time to find a good job
Reports define good work as allowing someone to be economically self-sufficient. At the national level, this means paying at least $ 35,000 for workers under the age of 45 and at least $ 45,000 for those older.
This may vary by geography due to different cost of living. The average good job in the country pays $ 57,000 for workers between the ages of 25 and 35.
Today’s good jobs require employees with more education and work experience than in the past, the reports said. This means that young people need stronger resumes to start their careers, and they need more time to find a good job.
The reports compare two cohorts by birth: baby boomers born between 1946 and 1950, and millennials born between 1981 and 1985. Nearly 50% of the Boomer workforce had a good job when they were 25 years old. Less than 45% of millennials can say the same.
However, this is not the whole story. The cohort of millennia has on average started to work better than the boomers around the age of 30. By age 35, more than 60% of millennials were doing well, compared to just over half of those who were boomers.
Education has been a great divider between the millennia. Approximately 80% of the millennial cohort with a bachelor’s degree or higher had a good job at age 35, compared with only 56% with a college or master’s degree. Meanwhile, only 42% of those who had only a high school diploma and 26% of those who did not receive a high school diploma got good jobs.
Comparing generations and their level of education, the authors found only one group of workers in the millennial cohort who are more likely to do a good job than the corresponding boomer cohort: workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
This means that educational disparities between different races, ethnicities and genders have become more important. Reports say that Millennials are the most diverse generation of the workforce.
Opportunities vary by race, ethnicity and gender
The results of the top line obscure the significant differences that arise from detailed analysis of data on gender, race, and ethnicity.
Young women in the workforce today are more likely to do a good job than a generation ago, but they still lag behind young men. Workers who are black or African-American, Hispanic or Hispanic also did a good job at much lower rates than whites.
More than six out of 10 Asian American men and white men in the workforce worked well, which is the highest among demographic groups in the reports. At the other end of the spectrum were Hispanic and Latin American women, only 29% of whom had good jobs.
“Race / ethnicity and gender unfairly affect the likelihood that a person will have a good job,” the report said. “As a result, the hierarchy reflects differences in access to opportunities throughout young people’s education and career paths, beginning in early childhood and extending to their careers.”
Reports have shown that children of parents with high socioeconomic status have a much better chance of getting a good job at a young age. A decade after 10th grade, 34% of those with parents from the highest socioeconomic quintile have a good job versus only 19% of parents from the lowest quintile.
Wealthy parents are in the best position to make sure their children have social and academic support, the reports said. For example, they may live in neighborhoods with well-funded public schools. Children of less affluent parents or those who have not enrolled in college “remain hoping for the weakest links in our unequal and often inadequate public education system for important social and academic support,” the reports said.
Education alone cannot close the gap, according to reports. They call for broad political reforms to give young people an equal chance at financial stability:
- Bring a country’s diversity with investments such as culture-based learning and counseling.
- Consider policy and program reforms through the prism of equity, measuring inequality and working to address it.
- Stop funding inequalities and provide targeted, full support to young people, including high-quality universal kindergartens and public schools that are funded on a fair basis.
- Invest in programs that view education and job markets as a single system and involve employer participation.
- Help young people, especially the marginalized, by opening up their careers and training at work, starting in high school and continuing in college.
- Create a transparent and data-based career navigation system. Make him responsible for fair and effective results. Have high schools and higher education providers offer credit courses in which students make educational and career plans.
- Make college more accessible and reduce racial and ethnic gaps in college funding. This can be done by investing in a free college, additional credentials, undergraduate programs at public colleges and better ways to transition to college.
College leaders should provide students with the information they need to consider their future opportunities when choosing a major and career path, said Artem Gulish, senior political strategist and research officer at Georgetown CEW and author of the reports. They should also remember that in today’s job market, work experience such as internships, apprenticeships or other work-based learning is important, he said.
Gulish offered a graduate or accumulative certificate that could open up higher education to underrepresented students who may not be able to devote most of their time to graduation. And as an important point he singled out the cost of education.
“Cost has a real impact on the financial well-being of students and young people,” Gulish said.
According to Gulish, for employers, promoting justice is a key achievement.
“Many of these social networks and systems that employers rely on are inherently more inclined towards more affluent youth groups,” he said. “Therefore, employers must actively oppose this.”
Gulish argued that employers would benefit from attracting an education system to provide on-the-job training opportunities. It could help them attract young workers to their fields early to partially compensate for the retirement of baby boomers, he said.