Failure to Launch: Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation


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Failure to Launch includes an analysis of labor force participation, employment, and earnings for young adults in their 20s and older adults in their 50s, 60s, and 70s between 1980 and 2012.

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Failure to Launch: Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation

  1. 1. Failure to Launch: Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation By: Anthony P. Carnevale, Andrew R. Hanson, Artem Gulish September 30, 2013
  2. 2. Overview •  There has been a structural shift whereby the traditional path from school to work and then onto retirement no longer applies for a growing amount of Americans. •  Young adults are launching their careers later and are going through additional phases in the lifecycle of work and learning.
  3. 3. A Lost Decade •  As a result of this shift, the first decade of the 21st century was a lost decade for young adults. •  The employment rate for young adults (ages 21-25) declined from 84 percent to 72 percent between 2000 and 2012.
  4. 4. Young adults’ participation in the labor force has declined since the 1990s; it is now at its lowest point since 1972
  5. 5. The structural shift has affected certain groups more than others, particularly three main groups •  Young Adults, specifically men •  Young African Americans •  High School Graduates
  6. 6. In 1980, young men made 85 percent of the median wage; in 2012, they earned only 55 percent of the median wage
  7. 7. The share of men in their late 20s who work full-time declined from 80 percent to 65 percent between 2000 and 2012
  8. 8. The peak unemployment rate for young African-Americans was more than twice as high as the peak unemployment rate for whites
  9. 9. While young adults at all education levels suffered, B.A. degree holders endured the shocks of the last decade •  High school graduates’ full-time employment rate declined 13 percentage points between 2000 and 2012, compared to 8 points for BA holders.
  10. 10. Older workers are delaying retirement plans •  Between 1983 and 2012, the employment rate of 55- to 64- year-olds increased from 52 percent to 61 percent.
  11. 11. By 2021, there will be 14,235,000 job openings for young adults created by retirements •  Contrary to popular belief, older adults aren’t crowding younger workers out of the labor market. •  There are more job openings created by retirements per young person today than there were in the 1990s when young people had high rates of employment.
  12. 12. Entitlements for seniors, however, are putting increased pressure on investments in education and training
  13. 13. The on-ramps and off-ramps into and out of the labor market need to be smoother and more efficient •  Young adults will need to mix work and learning at earlier stages to accelerate their launch into full-time careers. •  Older adults need a less abrupt transition out of careers and into retirement that features a more flexible phase of work before full-fledged retirement.
  14. 14. For more information: See the full report at:   Email Us | Follow Us on Twitter | @GeorgetownCEW Find Us on Facebook | Follow Us on LinkedIn |