Young Adults, Missing Jobs and the Nonprofit Sector

Watching a segment on a morning show featuring pundits drinking coffee and discussing the difficulty of the job market for anyone under age 30 reminded me of a chat I had with a nonprofit leader back in the midst of the fiscal maelstrom. He lamented that his children – all young adults, finishing school or starting off in their various fields – were never going to have either the professional opportunities or the standard of living that he had achieved. I thought to myself that Gen X didn’t have it particularly easy either: the “new normal” of guaranteed job insecurity, 1.5  to 2 incomes needed to buy a modest house (forget about being too choosey about the school district), raising children while planning (or actively caring) for aging parents, and carrying the obligation of repaying our own student loans.

However, some recent reports shed light on the extent of the challenges facing young people when it comes to securing employment. The report, No End in Sight? The Long-Term Youth Jobs Gap and What It Means for America from Young Invincibles, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, found that the rate of unemployment for 16-to-24 year olds was more than double the national unemployment rate – 16.5 percent compared to 8.2 percent. The rates for African–American and Latino young adults are even higher – 20.5 and 30.2 percent.

No End in Sight? examines the youth employment  gap between what is available in the current economy and what a healthier version (not expected until 2021 unless strong action is taken) would resemble, concluding that the recession has cost youth and young adults over 2 and half million jobs. What makes the impact of the recession more of a concern to the authors is that early experience of unemployment leads to outcomes such as lower lifetime wages and lack of upward mobility.

 Demos looks the July 2012 Young Adult Employment Report though a mixed lens, on one hand the unemployment rate for 25-to-34 year olds remained stable at 8.2 percent, but data indicate this cohort also left the labor force – ending their job search for whatever reason.

Tying this bleak outlook back to the nonprofit sector – I was curious about the results from the latest survey from Idealist.org which indicate unemployed young adults are not flocking to the HR departments of nonprofit organizations. According to the data reported in Voices from the Sector: The Idealist.org Nonprofit Job Seeker Report, people 18-to-29 years made up 27 percent of nonprofit job applicants – just slightly above the 24 percent of 30-to-39 year olds and below the 28 percent of job-seekers aged 50 to 54 years. Interesting.

What are you experiencing as a nonprofit professional or job-seeker? Are older persons returning to the full-time workforce, including nonprofit organizations? Are Millenials just not attracted to the sector as much as their older counterparts?