Young adults today are slow to gain financial independence

According to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), young adults today need more time, education and work experience to secure what is considered “good work” than previous generations. Nowadays it takes a long time for most young adults to get a good job until their 30th birthday, whereas 40 years ago most of them had a good job at the end of their 20s.

CEW defines a “good job” as allowing young adults to become financially self-sufficient. For workers 45 years of age or younger, that means earning at least $ 35,000 a year, and for those over 45 it’s at least $ 45,000 a year, a statistic that varies somewhat according to local standards of living. Nationwide, the average annual salary for a good job for employees between the ages of 25 and 35 is $ 57,000.

The surest way to financial self-sufficiency is a college degree, the report says, published under the headline “Uncertain path to a good job from youth”. Today, 80 percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher have a better job by age 35, compared to 56 percent who have some college or associate’s degree, 42 percent who have only a high school diploma, and 26 percent less who have a high school diploma.

“Obviously, getting a bachelor’s degree or higher is increasingly the best bet when it increases the chances of getting a good job,” the study says.

Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the agency is used in two reports entitled “Educational Ability Limits, Work-Based Education, and Career Counseling Hurt Progress Towards Better Jobs” and “How Racial and Gender Prejudice Hurt Progress Towards Better Jobs.” Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Katherine Campbell, co-author of the report and co-director of editorial policy at CEW, says the reports address the general impression that young people do not have as much opportunity as young people in the past.

“I think our report makes the story a bit more important, in the sense that what we’ve found is that when adults are under 30, they’re less likely to get a good job than they are to be compared.” The number of baby boomers is generation, ”said Campbell. “But older than that, today’s youth are actually more likely to get good jobs than the previous generation.”

However, this is true only for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Only 70 percent of college graduates born between 1946 and 1950 had a good job at the age of 35, compared to 80 percent born between 1981 and 1985.

And while most of today’s young adults can do better at age 35 than in previous generations, Campbell says it takes them up to 30 years to get a good job, the consequences of which will force them to delay their marriage, perhaps for the rest of their lives. Or childbirth or buying a home. And according to research, households run by 35-year-olds are less than two-thirds of the net worth of the same household 20 years ago.

Artem Gulish, a senior policy strategist at CEW and research faculty and co-author of the report, says the baby boomer generation and the type of skills needed to get a good job have changed over the millennium.

“In the past, many young people, especially young ones, could have gotten a job in a factory relatively easily after finishing high school, or got another blue-collar job,” Gulish said. “Whereas today, many jobs require at least some quality work experience, which takes time to acquire. And for the job people need to acquire more skills, especially cognitive and interpersonal skills. In the past, many blue-collar jobs, in particular, were more about physical fitness, which doesn’t take long to achieve. “

Matthew Hora, co-director of the Center for College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT) and an associate professor of adult and higher education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said he was not surprised by the CW’s results; The bachelor’s degree has long indicated to employers that a worker has certain skills, he noted.

“For a long time, having a bachelor’s degree was one of the key gatekeeping processes for a well-paying job,” Hora said. “I think it’s fairly safe to say that in some disciplines, for example, engineering, a good three to five years of education and training is essential in some of these disciplines to get a well-paying job. I think it’s more controversial than other professions. “

Hora said her team’s research at CCWT shows that some HR directors and hiring supervisors equate a bachelor’s degree with a sense of work ethic and perseverance, but not as an assessment of skills or knowledge for the job.

“I think it’s really complicated why a bachelor’s degree leads to this inequality in terms of wages and financial security,” Hora said. “But one reason employers look to bachelor’s degrees as an indication of many of the job applicants’ qualities, some of which, in our view as researchers, is highly questionable.”

The CEW report notes that since post-secondary education has become the key to finding a good job, the cost of joining a four-year institution has nearly tripled, reaching an average of about $ 30,000 a year for tuition, fees and room and board. To help more young adults reap the benefits of a college degree, academics need to invest in making it more accessible to any young person who wants to earn degrees, Campbell said.

“We want to get good jobs for people who don’t have a post-secondary education, but we know that post-secondary education is a powerful way to get a good job,” Campbell said. “So making that path easier for travel is really a must for educators to ensure that young people get the best out of their college experience. People go to college for different reasons and getting a good job is one of them. “

Work-based learning programs, including internships and apprenticeships, can also extend access to good jobs for young people. But CEW research has shown that those opportunities are more common among those who attend college; 54 percent of young adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher completed work-based learning program, compared to 7 percent with a high school diploma or less.

Reports suggest that high schools and colleges hire more career counselors to help adolescents and young adults make informed decisions about their educational and career paths. Currently, each counselor is responsible for about 70 percent more students than the CEW’s recommended student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to one, according to the report.

“Basically, young people need guidance,” Gulish said. “We have more details on which paths are more promising that are available, but young people don’t have much experience – they don’t necessarily understand what will work for them and what won’t.”

CEW research has found significant disparities by race and gender among young adults with good jobs. At every educational level, young women are less likely to get good jobs than young men in the same ethnic / ethnic group. And women of color are less likely to get good jobs.

Young white workers are more likely to get better jobs than young black or African American workers or young Hispanic or Latino workers of either sex, the report said. At age 35, 70 percent of white workers have an average chance of finding a good job, with more than 40 percent of Hispanic / Latino workers and more than 50 percent of black workers.

The report also found that the average net worth of young white men with a high school diploma is $ 2,300 – 2.5 times higher than that of young black women with a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is $ 900.

“Women, in particular, need a degree more than men to earn an equal income,” Campbell said. “When you add race to the mix, there is a deeper inequality between groups and some of it has to be under-represented and under-represented by women and minority communities when they are in the same role.”

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