Report: California millennials fall behind in job market

150 150 Ed Coghlan

California millennials are having a tough time in the state’s economy.

That’s the gist of a report issued by the Young Invincibles who this week unveiled its report: “Through Their Eyes: The Challenges Facing Young Workers in California’s Post-Recession Economy”. The report looks at the driving forces behind unemployment and underemployment among Millennial Californians (those in the 18-34 age range).

The Young Invincibles, a national non-profit that focuses on issues affecting the young, concluded their Jobs Tour project in California, which generated interesting feedback. They spoke with 200 millennials at 13 different locations that reflected California’s diversity.

Irving Pineda, who led the Tour, said: “From L.A. to San Francisco, we talked with hundreds of young people about their experiences searching for work: several Millennials are pursuing higher education and yet, lack the skills or resources to navigate today’s tough job market.”

The Great Recession hit young workers harder than any other age group, and six years later our generation still grapples for economic stability. California’s young adults are no exception. The unemployment rate of Californians aged 16 to 24 is 20.2 percent

Over the last ten years, median incomes for 18- to 24-year-old Californians have fallen by a quarter, driven by falling wages in the leisure & hospitality, retail & wholesale, healthcare, and education sectors. Wages also plummeted in those sectors for workers ages 25- to 34-years old, while the wages of those 35+ years of age dropped by less than 5 percent on average

How the millennials enter and ultimately thrive in the workforce is critical to the future of California’s economy, especially since they’ll become a bigger and bigger percentage of that workforce.

“Our economy demands a skilled and educated workforce. It’s why we are investing and need to continue to invest in career and technical education to train our workforce, particularly our young people, for jobs in the growing fields of California’s diverse economy,” said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president-superintendent of Long Beach City College and co-chair of the California Economic Summit Steering Committee.

The report lays out a roadmap with ways to create more opportunities for millennials including boosting funds and support for career technical education (CTE), Linked Learning career pathway programs, and apprenticeships in California.

The Governor’s 2015 budget proposed a Career Technical Education Incentive Grant program which would spend $750 million over three years on creating and building quality CTE programs that offer skills and practical experience.

To boost job prospects for young adults, California needs to address the growing skills gap and diversify its employment opportunities. It begins with education. Keeping people in school and inspiring them to careers are critical needs.

“We have two Californias: one getting richer and one getting poorer. To remedy, our young people need to finish high school and be college and career ready to fill the millions of jobs that we will need to sustain California’s economy in the 21st century,” said Paul Granillo, president and CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and co-chair of the California Economic Summit Steering Committee.

The Summit, which will be held in Ontario on November 12 and 13th, is regions-based effort that is designed to help identify policies that can increase middle class jobs and recently issued Roadmap to Share Prosperity, proposals aimed helping every region in California concentrate its efforts to accelerate middle class job growth. 

The Young Invincibles report says California will have a shortage of 3.2 million college-educated workers by 2025–jobs either that are yet to be created by California’s dynamic and changing economy or those that will be left vacant by retiring baby boomers.

“We can do better in California to set up our generation for the workforce. Their success is critical to the future of our economy” said Irving Pineda.


Ed Coghlan

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