BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

The Plight of the Young Worker

Posted by knbarrett on December 10, 2009

Though stereotyped as a cohort of eager, overachievers, Gen Y is not recesssion-proof.  It’s a tough time to be a young worker. A BusinessWeek article declared Gen Y the “Lost Generation.”

Two studies by the AFL-CIO and Demos provide staggering statistics. Here’s what we know about the plight of young workers:

  • During the second quarter of 2009, the unemployment rate for young workers under 25 was 31.9 percent. Young people of color and those without a college degree suffer the most  from unemployment and underemployment.
  • Only 31 percent of young workers make enough money to cover their bills and put money away in savings.
  • Approximately one and three young workers does not have health care coverage. Fifty percent of uninsured can’t afford health care and over 30 percent say their employer doesn’t offer it.

So what do young workers need?

Robert Kuttner argues that we need “An Economic Compact for the Young.”  Young workers short-term and long-term economic prospects are in jeopardy. Kuttner suggests that the “compact” include the following:

  1. Affordable Education
  2. Universal Healthcare
  3. Living-Wage Jobs

Significant commitment and resources are required to improve this generation’s economic trajectory.


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