The millennial generation is the largest in American history, and they’ve begun to enter the workforce. But more and more, these young workers are stuck in low-end, low-pay, and even part-time jobs for which they are overqualified—something that a recent NBER working paper has found could depress their future earnings for years. These days, there are simply not enough good jobs to go around.
One big reason for this is that many baby boomers, also hit hard by the economic crisis, are putting off retirement and staying in their jobs longer. Theaverage retirement age is now 62—five years older than it was two decades ago. The end result is that the labor market overhang of boomers has essentially prevented millennials from finding the sort of good jobs that are so important at the start of their careers.
A new analysis by the labor market data and research firm EMSI and CareerBuilder tracks how the job market has changed for these two cohorts—young workers 22-34, and pre-retirement workers aged 55 to 64—since the crisis, from 2007 to 2013.
The news is troubling. Even as their population numbers have swelled, the number of younger workers has remained stable since 2007, while the number of pre-retirement workers has grown 9 percent over the same time.
In part, this latter fact is a product of America’s changing demographics. There are more 55 to 64 year olds than there were seven years ago, so more of them are in the workforce. The population above 55 has grown 20 percent since 2007. But there are also more 22 to 34 year olds—a demographic category that grew at a slower but still substantial 5 percent—yet their numbers in the workforce have remained stable. Some of these may have had trouble finding work, while others may have returned to school in order to gain competitive skills and wait out a sluggish job market. Clearly, those trying to break in have lost out over the course of the Great Recession.