Adulthood begins later than it used to

David  February 13, 2012

PEW SOCIAL & DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
www.pewsocialtrends.org

In a 1993 Newsweek poll, 80% of parents with young children said children should be financially independent from their parents by the age of 22. Today, only 67% of parents hold that view. Three-in-ten (31%) of today’s parents say children shouldn’t have to be on their own financially until age 25 or later.

Young workers feel more vulnerable than they used to. In a 1998 survey, 65% of 18- to 34-year-olds working full time or part time said they were extremely or very confident that they could find another job if they lost or left their current job. The share of those highly confident fell dramatically to 25% in 2009. It has rebounded somewhat since then (to 43% in the current survey) but is still nowhere near the 1998 level.

Most young US workers say they don’t have the education and training to get ahead.

Among 18- to 34-year-olds who are employed, less than half (46%) say they have the education and training necessary to get ahead in their job or career. Among those who are not working, only 27% say they are adequately prepared for the kind of job they want. Having a college degree makes a big difference on this question: 69% of young college graduates who are working say they have the education and training they need to get ahead. This compares with only 39% of those who do not have a degree and are not enrolled in college.

College enrollment rates are tied to employment declines among the young. A greater share of young adults are enrolled in high school or college today than at any time in recorded history. This increase in enrollment is one reason that fewer young adults are on the job today, but it doesn’t account for all the job losses experienced by this age group in recent years. The Great Recession broadly reduced the employment rate of young adults regardless of whether they were in school. Among those enrolled in school, the employment rate fell from 47.6% in 2007 to 40.7% in 2011. And among those not enrolled in school, it fell from 73.2% to 65.0% over that same period.

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