Millennials still struggling in the labor market

More likely to move home, be overqualified for their current jobs

Despite an improving economy, a study has found that the labor market remains tough for millennials, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The study, from the personal branding firm Millennial Branding and the compensation information company PayScale, surveyed more than 1 million workers over two years. Millennials are considered those born between 1982 and 2002.

The survey found that millennials are highly educated compared to previous generations. A full 78% of millennials have a bachelor's degree, compared with 69% of Gen-Xers (born 1965-1981) and 63% of baby boomers (born 1946-1964).

However, their education has not brought them the same benefits as it might have in the past. For example:

  • 25% said they returned to living with family at some point for financial reasons, compared with 11% of the previous generation; and
  • 30% of millennials with a doctor of medicine report that they are underemployed, compared with 22% of the previous generation.

Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, says the survey shows millennials are "having a tough time getting into the professional world," even if they are highly educated.

When they do find work, millennials prefer to stay for a shorter amount of time. More than a quarter say it is ok to look for another job even if they have been employed for less than a year. Lydia Frank, PayScale’s editorial director, says a willingness to change jobs early may reflect the sluggish job market. 

EAB insight: Meeting the demand for alumni career services

"If they're graduating and they have a master's or bachelor's degree and they're ending up in a job that is not a good fit for those skills … it would make sense that they don't think they need to hang out there for more than a year if they find something that is a better fit," she says.

For millennials the value of postgraduate education has also declined. Only non-MBA master's degrees and Ph.D.'s provide an earnings increase that is greater than in previous generations.

One bright spot is workplace equality. The gender pay gap for millennial workers—adjusted for job choice and other factors—is less than previous generations (Peralta, U.S. News & World Report, 11/19).


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