You are currently viewing Good jobs are out of reach for many 20-somethings in the United States

Good jobs are out of reach for many 20-somethings in the United States

Punters would not like the odds that many young people face when entering the workforce in search of high-paying jobs. New research from Brookings Metro and Child Trends finds that nearly 60% of adults who were socioeconomically disadvantaged in adolescence continue to struggle economically at age 30, facing low incomes, high poverty rates and multiple barriers to employment use.

Based on annual earnings and employment benefits, the Brookings and Child Trends researchers segmented adults from disadvantaged backgrounds into four groups. One group, representing 22% of the study population, had an average annual income of $4,200 at age 30 and no employment benefits. Another 36% had average annual earnings of $19,000 and a benefit. The other two groups were more well off economically: 34% had an average annual income of $42,000 at age 30 and the bottom 9% had an average annual income of $97,000.

another report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that the age at which the majority of young adults get a good job has moved from their mid-twenties to their early thirties. (A “good job” is defined as paying at least $35,000 per year and $57,000 at the median for workers aged 25 to 35 nationally, with adjustments based on differences in the cost of life between states.) The report also shows that only young adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher are consistently more likely to be in a good job than the previous generation. The majority of workers with a high school diploma or less do not get a good job at age 35.

These results are striking, but when you consider national education, training and employment policies, you can hardly call them a surprise. K-12 education, post-secondary education, and the workforce development system all operate in different silos – with different incentives, rules, and governance structures, and none is properly connected to the labor market. The domain of positive youth development offers effective practices for reaching young people, but they are unevenly recognized and integrated by those responsible for training young people and preparing them for employment.

For a large portion of young people (and disproportionately those who are female, black, Latino, or Hispanic), we have normalized a path from high school to low-wage employment, unemployment, and poverty. Less than 40% of young Black and Latino or Hispanic men in the workforce have a good job, and the likelihood of having a good job is even lower for Black and Latino or Hispanic women. In their research, Brookings Metro and Child Trends identified gender and race as significantly associated with earnings, even after controlling for other employment-relevant factors. Women were more likely to belong to a low-income group than men, and Black people were more likely than whites, Latinos, or Hispanics to belong to a low-income group. The fact that certain groups of people are concentrated in low paid jobs is the logical result of our existing policies.

It is time to reject this model and create the conditions for all young people to flourish. If youth policy is meant to guide all young people towards economic independence as adults, we need fundamental and comprehensive reform. We need a “all-in-one system approach” that breaks down the barriers between pre-K-12 education, post-secondary education, and the job market.

A holistic approach would provide young people with a seamless and flexible continuum of support throughout their education and entry into their careers. It would include facets such as universal high quality early childhood education; career exploration, guidance, and preparation beginning in middle school and extending into high school and college; and more opportunities to earn college credit in high school through practices such as dual enrollment. This would facilitate smoother transfers between community colleges and four-year institutions; providing more work-based learning experiences such as internships, work-study programs and apprenticeships; and encourage greater collaboration between employers and education providers. Importantly, these practices would be supported by a robust data system linking individual data (with confidentiality safeguards) from the K-12, post-secondary and employment systems, which would facilitate coordination and ensure transparency and accountability. responsibility.

There are many examples of creative and effective programs that model these approaches, such as Linked learning, Year up to, brave, through schoolsand Genesys works, among others. However, these programs do not have the scale, funding or capacity to offset the “triple deficits” insufficient access to post-secondary education, limited exposure to quality work experience and workplace learning, and lack of guidance to support career navigation. System-wide reforms and policy changes at the federal, state and local levels will be needed to fundamentally change the equation for young people from marginalized backgrounds.

Although large-scale action at the federal level is unlikely in the near future, some lawmakers are taking steps to take a comprehensive approach. For example, the version of the America COMPETES Act passed the House earlier this year included a bipartisan amendment that incorporated provisions of the College Transparency Act (supporting a more comprehensive data system) and another measure that would allow Pell Grants to be used. for qualified short-term training programs. At the same time, a growing number of states and public institutions are collaborating with the U.S. Census Bureau as it expands its Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes Initiative, which will allow stakeholders to assess the employment and earnings outcomes of students entering the national labor market. In addition, a significant number of states recognize the importance of tools that expand career preparation in K-12 education, including personalized academic and career plans, career counseling, and work-based learning.

In the long term, a full commitment to a comprehensive approach is imperative both for our country’s economic competitiveness and for our ability to provide fair opportunities to all young people, including those from marginalized backgrounds. Youth and young adults deserve an equal opportunity to leverage their talent and potential while achieving economic security. As our respective research clearly shows, we have a lot of work to do as a country to improve the chances of today’s young adults.

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