For young workers, a steady job is hard to find

Nearly half of unemployed Americans are under 34, while those employed shouldn't expect to stay put for long.

By Jason Notte Apr 10, 2013 7:31AM

Image: Young business woman with her colleagues working in call center -Daniel Laflor/the Agency Collection/Getty ImagesWell, young American workforce, there's no way of putting this nicely: You're hosed.


According to public policy organization Demos, about 45% of the nation's unemployed are between 18 and 34. That's 5.6 million young people who don’t have a job, not to mention 4.7 million more who are underemployed or working in jobs for which they're overqualified.

Even if you do manage to find some kind of gainful employment, don't plan on sticking around very long. A Labor Department study found that the average 25-year-old has already worked 6.3 jobs since he or she turned 18. That's beating mom and dad's pace, as the same study found that young baby boomers between 50 and 55 worked 5.5 jobs by the time they hit 25.

The news isn't getting better anytime soon, either. Demos estimates that the U.S. economy would have to add another 4.1 million jobs before young adults get back to pre-recession employment levels. Those who are employed, meanwhile, have expectations of the job market that don't mesh with reality.

A PwC study found that 54% of millennials planned to work for between two and five employers for their entire career. A Career Advisory Board study says workers between 21 and 31 plan to work only five jobs total during their lifetimes. They're already 1.3 jobs in the red.


That said, young workers and job seekers don't need yet another reminder of how tough it is out there. Both art-school students and MBAs are being crushed by debt. Doctorate recipients are seeking food stamps in increasing numbers.


Even when college grads land a job, it's not always one that requires their level of education. Roughly 284,000 college graduates are making minimum wage. Even though the U.S. economy has recovered 5.7 million of the 8.7 million jobs shed during the recession, The National Employment Law Project says nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the recession paid middle-income wages or better, but roughly 65% of the jobs that have been regained are low-wage.


As a result, The Center For College Affordability and Productivity reported that nearly half of the college graduates from the class of 2010 are in jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree. A full 38% have taken gigs that don't even require a high school education. According to the Associated Press, that has dropped the median wage for college graduates significantly since 2000.


Still, a college degree continues to be an advantage. From 2010, when the job market bottomed out, to 2012, workers with bachelor's degrees saw their employment rate increase by 5%. Those with advanced degrees fared even better: Among workers with master's, doctoral or professional degrees, about 1.1 million more reported having a job in 2012 than in 2010. According to the Labor Department, that 6.7% increase represents the fastest employment gain of any education level during that span.


On the other side, the 36% of American workers older than 25 with a high school education or less started losing jobs in 2007 and haven't stopped. About 767,000 fewer of them reported having a job in 2012 than in 2010, and 2 million workers in that demographic left the job market altogether during that span.

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Apr 10, 2013 9:18AM
I call BS on this.  The horizontal drilling plays in Pennsylvania, Texas, and North Dakota are begging for young people (mostly men) who are willing to work hard and can pass a drug test.  No, you can't get a job in New York or California because of their vicious regulatory climate, but there are plenty of well paying jobs elsewhere.
Apr 10, 2013 9:22AM
So half of the UE people are 18-34 yr olds?  Isn't that the same demographic that voted overwhelmingly in favor of our current crop of politicians?  Twice??  Truth be told, a good portion of these young and unemployed don't want to work.  They're definitely interested in getting a paycheck on a regular basis, they just don't want to put forth the effort necessary to get it.  God forbid a 23 yr old with a BA in psychology or English should have to actually work 45 hours a week for $25k/yr.  Nope, that's just not going to happen.  Now, maybe if they could get paid that and work like 20 hrs a week, that might be more acceptable to them, especially if they can spend half that time texting or checking facebook or playing games on their smartphones.  Working outside? - out of the question.  Getting a little dirty or sweaty? - no way.  Working a little extra here and there without comp time or extra pay? - not going to happen.  Having to start work early in the morning? - not an option.  Working on a weekend? - fuggedaboutit.

So all you 18-34 yr olds out there who don't have a job, enjoy your utopia, you voted for it.  And to all you parents out there that are tired of supporting your loser children, it's mostly your fault for raising them to be spoiled, dependent brats. 

Apr 10, 2013 12:53PM

  says nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the recession paid middle-income wages or better, but roughly 65% of the jobs that have been regained are


More than that.  Middle class jobs are gone now, along with the middle class.  Its the Haves and Have Nots now; each telilng the other how to live their lives.


Apr 10, 2013 9:49AM
Finding a steady job is only part of the Problem for that Group. Finding a job that pays a living WAGE is next to impossible. Most folks want to work. However, most folks also want a Fair Wage for a honest days work. Corporations prefer paying slave labor to workers overseas. Corporations prefer not paying out benefits. It's funny how corporate costs have gone way down yet the price of the crappy products they sell us continue to go up. Bottom line profits are going straight to the TOP.

God forbid that a CEO actually worked for a change. God forbid that workers actually got paid a living wage. God forbid that folks stop crapping on American Workers.
Apr 10, 2013 10:12AM

our rich have outsourced our young peoples jobs.Programmed lunatics will contend that our young dont want to work.dont believe it.its a smoke screen thrown up by  people making excuses for the lack of opportunity here in america.we were sold free trade under the simplistic slogan "you'll get things cheaper".what they didnt mention is the price is american jobs and standard of living.looking at the long term side effects of free trade its clear that its the biggest mistake this countries ever made for most americans.the rich and our politicians love it.its resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from us to the rich.never in our countries history has income disparity been higher.check out politizanes youtube video"income inequality in america"youll be shocked.the rich dont want you to know this.theyve paid for ads to confuse you.dont be.take a look

Apr 10, 2013 10:46AM

You better have killer skills these days.Manufacturing jobs have went to China for the

most part.The jobs as teacher,fireman,police and postal arn`t safe anymore.I`ld learn

as much as I could in high tech if I was young.

Apr 10, 2013 9:05AM
what a nice future we have ahead of us! 
Apr 10, 2013 12:51PM
If Obama has quit smoking like he cut the deficit in half ........... he must be up to 4 packs a day by now.
Apr 10, 2013 2:14PM
The more we allow the Wealthy to steal from the system and not pay any penalties, the bigger will be the next Recession.  The longer we allow the Corporate Elite to not pay a living Wage, the bigger will be the next Recession. The longer folks live in Denial, the bigger the chance that it won't be just a Recession,  it will be a full blown Depression. At that point, everyone loses. Why, might be a full blown Civil War.
Apr 10, 2013 1:15PM
There are now 11 states have more people unemployed than employed.
The more people that are dependent on this current administration for their welfare the more people that will continue to vote for this party so that they do not loose their benefits.

Why work? Why create jobs?

Apr 10, 2013 10:20AM
I have had a few under 35's work for me, and all I can say is give me some over 50, The 50+ crowd don't waste their time texting friends, playing with their phones, and generally always show up on time. Two-five minutes late everyday is unacceptable. You work for me, not the other way around. In general their work ethics stink.
Apr 10, 2013 12:33PM
The newspapers are filled with job opportunities. The big problem is so many of the applicants don't have the skills to render them employable.  How did they do in school? Were they A and B students who studied hard and tried to wind up with marketable skills? Probably gentleman C students or worse who, though they have a college diploma (probably in LSA), partied too much and wound up unqualified for a good job with a ladder to climb. As you sow, so shall you reap...truer words were never spoked.
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