June 6, 2019

For 91 percent of recent college graduates, a job search is a difficult experience. The unemployment rate has been going down, and starting salaries have been increasing, but young adults are still facing a number of challenges when they enter the job market.

Geographical inequalities

Even though statistics show that unemployment is going down, there are still some significant inequalities. Some young adults are left behind, as 15 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds aren't enrolled in school and don't have a job.

Among unemployed young adults, 25 percent never finished high school and 20 percent took some college classes but didn't get a degree. Young adults who are unemployed or who didn't graduate from high school often live in cities that used to be industrial centers and that are characterized by a high unemployment rate for all generations.

More than a third of young adults who aren't in school are working, but they often have careers with very few opportunities for advancement.

Unemployment and hiring

A millennial at work.

While the national unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent, millennials have a much higher unemployment rate of 12.8 percent. Unemployment has been going down, but there hasn't been a significant increase in entry-level positions for recent graduates.

Between 2017 and 2018, employers planned on hiring 1.3 percent fewer new graduates. Even though 43 percent of employers want to increase hiring, more than half says that hiring has been stagnant.

Roadblocks to independence

Millennials still encounter significant barriers to reaching certain life milestones even when they have jobs. Educated young adults often end up in entry-level positions with low starting wages. It's difficult to find work with a salary that is sufficient for keeping up with student loan payments and high rents. A third of 18 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents.

Employment trends

Millennials are more likely to find work when applying with small or medium companies. However, young adults are more likely to change jobs regularly. In fact, 41 percent of millennials expect to keep their current job for two years or less.

Being willing and able to relocate can make a significant difference, especially for millennials who can move to growing urban centers. Millennials with degrees in growing fields such as health care, computer science or solar energy are more likely to find work with higher wages.

A millennial in a job interview.

The Tax Cuts and Job Act significantly lowered the corporate tax and should result in more companies hiring and potentially offering higher wages. However, the $22 trillion federal debt will make low corporate taxes impossible to sustain.

It's very likely that corporate taxes will increase in the near future as more revenues are needed to keep up with the federal debt, which means that young adults could struggle even more to enter the job market.

It's time to advocate for more responsible fiscal policies to prevent this from happening. This is an issue that It's Up To Us has been drawing attention to through our events and programs.