Encouraging jobs report for nation’s workers, including young adults

Echoing the national employment picture, young adults unemployment rate fell again last month, from 6.9 percent in July to 6.7 percent in August (seasonably adjusted). Young African Americans, a group with persistently high unemployment rates, also dropped nearly two points to 10.5 percent, although that estimate can not be adjusted for the seasonable employment changes, such as summer jobs.


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New Census Data Shows Drop in Uninsured Rate for Millennials for Third Straight Year Since Full ACA Implementation

September 13, 2016
Contact: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org, 202-734-6510

  • The uninsured rate for 18-34 year-olds decreased to 15 percent in 2015, continuing progress made over the last two open enrollment seasons of the ACA.
  • Young adults make up 46 percent of the newly insured, despite only making up 30 percent of the adult population.
  • Young Latinos, among the highest rates of uninsured, also see the steepest improvement.

New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau shows the rate of young adults without health insurance has continued to drop for the third consecutive year since the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The rate of 18-to-34 year-olds without health insurance fell to 15.0 percent in 2015 from 17.2 percent in 2014 and 22.4 percent in 2013.

This drop reflects 5.2 million fewer uninsured young adults since 2013. Young adults make up 46 percent of the newly insured, despite only making up approximately 30 percent of the adult population, showing that this age group disproportionately benefits from the ACA.

“This new data shows that the ACA is working for more young people each year, with steady increases in coverage for an age group that has historically lacked coverage at higher rates than older Americans,” said Jen Mishory, Executive Director of Young Invincibles.

While we see improvements across the board for young adults this year, coverage for young Latinos improved by the most significant margins, as the rate of uninsured among this population has decreased from 28.5 percent in 2014 to 24.1 percent in 2015. This 15.3 percent drop is larger than the young white non-Hispanic decline of 12.1 percent, and the decline for young African Americans of 9 percent.

Rate without Health Insurance  
Race/Ethnicity 2014 2015 Percent change
White Non-Hispanic 12.6% 11.0% -12.1%
Latino 28.5% 24.1% -15.3%
African American 20.7% 18.9% -9.0%


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July Jobs Numbers Make Case for Improving Apprenticeship Programs

By Tom Allison

While the national unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in July, the rate for young adults ages 18-to-34 rose slightly to 6.9 percent (seasonably adjusted) from 6.8 percent in June. Notably, sectors with high prevalence of apprenticeships saw significant job growth. Those sectors include:

  • The construction industry added 14,000 new jobs in July, including 9,400 specialty trade contracting jobs.
  • Nearly 50,000 new jobs were created in health care and social assistance, including 17,000 new hospital jobs and over 5,000 in social assistance.
  • There were also 11,000 new jobs in durable good manufacturing (all estimates seasonably adjusted).

Among the other unadjusted unemployment estimates, we see that young people of color continue to struggle to find a job despite the fact that our national unemployment rate has fallen by more than half since the depths of the recession:

  • Young Latinos: 7.5 percent
  • Young Asian or Pacific Islanders: 6.0 percent
  • Young African Americans 12.2 percent

jobs july


Last week’s jobs report coincides with Young Invincibles’ release of a new report on apprenticeships, debunking myths about the program and making suggestions for improving the system. The job growth in sectors key for apprenticeships reinforces our recommendations to improve our apprenticeship system. Conducted in the Chicagoland area where young people face some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the study highlights three key misconceptions that Millennials hold about apprenticeships: that apprenticeship programs don’t currently exist in their communities, that apprenticeships don’t pay, and that participating in an apprenticeship means never receiving a college degree.

Based on these misconceptions about apprenticeships, as well as stated job preferences among Millennials, we advance six recommendations for building and branding youth-friendly apprenticeship programs.

When it comes to program structure, we recommend expanding pre-apprenticeship and job shadowing opportunities, creating more apprenticeships that provide the option to receive college credentials, and starting apprentices in cohorts. On the marketing side, we suggest being more explicit about wages, building innovative social media marketing strategies, and using near-peers as ambassadors.  Doing so will both build a broader base of Millennial support for these programs and ensure that those opportunities fit the needs of today’s young people.

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Employment Trends of Young Adults over the Last Three Years



Tom Allison, 2013



June marked my third anniversary of working at Young Invincibles, and the 36th straight month of digging through the monthly jobs report to highlight young adults and underrepresented minorities’ trends in the workforce. Along the way we’ve explored entrenched inequities, particularly between African American and white young adults, put a price tag on the cost of youth unemployment, ranked the best jobs and industries for Millennial workers, and laid out a workforce development gameplan to improve young workers’ employment prospects. So we’ve learned a lot about young adults in the workforce, but I was curious about how their situation has changed in these last three years.

Generally, young adults, just like the workforce as a whole, have seen some significant improvements in the job market. In fact, there are 2.9 million more young adults working in 2016 than in 2013. Their unemployment rate has dropped 3.5 points to 6.8 percent from 10.4 percent.

June Jobs 16-1

The percent of young adults participating in the workforce (young adults with jobs or actively looking for one) has remained nearly the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as students not actively looking for work don’t count as part of the workforce.

June Jobs 16-2

The percentage of young people with jobs, also known as the employment-population ratio, has improved: nearly 70 percent of all young adults have some sort of employment, compared to 60 percent for the workforce at large.  While young people are finding jobs, it’s just as important  to understand the quality of jobs for young adults, and have that understanding drive our workforce policies.

June 16 -3

We know that all jobs aren’t created equal, and there’s plenty of evidence that young adults aren’t recovering fast enough to remain financially secure, and of course significant racial gaps persist and must be addressed. We also know that 99 percent of all jobs created since the Recession have gone to workers with a college education, so making college more accessible and affordable, and improving student success rates, is more important than ever.

So we’ve come a long way in the last three years, but have a lot more work to do.

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Tom Allison in the Young Invincibles’ Data Lab, 2016



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Young Invincibles: Damaging House Labor-H Bill Passes Appropriations Committee


Thursday, July 14, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith, nina.smith@younginvincibles.org301-717-9006

Damaging House Labor-H Bill Passes Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Appropriations Committee today passed the FY 2017 Labor-H Appropriations bill via a nearly party-line vote, which would cut Pell Grants and restrict the Department of Education’s ability to protect students from predatory education providers. It would completely eliminate funding for apprenticeships, child care for student parents, and health care access for millions of young adults.

Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles stated the following:

“The House Labor-H appropriations bill passed out of committee today ignores the barriers to opportunity facing millions of young people across the country. Slashing funding for education and child care could prevent young adults from establishing lasting careers, caring for their families, and boosting their earning potential with a college degree. At a time when our generation could become the first in American history worse off than our parents, this bill would put economic security further out of reach for millions.

The cuts in this bill are expansive.  Pell Grants would lose $1.3 billion, limiting access to college for eight million students seeking a postsecondary credential. The bill would zero-out funding for on-campus childcare essential for young parents seeking a degree – something that has enjoyed longstanding bipartisan support. It would also expose vulnerable students to deceptive, high-debt education providers with an outright repeal of the Gainful Employment rule.

Even as youth unemployment remains 40 percent above the national average, this bill eliminates already meager funding to support businesses hoping to establish and expand apprenticeship training programs that lead to well-paid jobs and productive employees. Finally, the bill would defund aspects of the ACA critical to ensuring health care access for millions of young people.

Students and working families count on these resources to make a better life for themselves and for their families. We commend Members of the Committee who stood up in support of smart investments that help Americans achieve economic security.  And we remain hopeful that Congress can find common ground that ensures access to a quality, affordable higher education, health care coverage for millions of young adults, and alternative pathways to essential workforce credentials in future spending agreements.”


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From Huffington Post: Work Study Isn’t Setting Up Students For Jobs The Way It’s Supposed To

By Daniela Villarreal (Florida State University, 2016)

The job-training program, known as Federal Work Study (FWS), is supposed to help college and university students like me to build foundational skills in our fields of study.

Unfortunately, the program, which began in the 1960s to help low-income students, has lost its focus and rising seniors like myself are facing a far more daunting jobs landscape than perhaps we should be because of this. This summer is a good time for lawmakers to start working to reform the program.

As a high school student during the Great Recession, I saw many friends and family lose jobs and I increasingly felt pressure to find work as the cost of college simultaneously rose. With more and more people pursuing college degrees across the country, it doesn’t seem like a diploma is enough anymore to start a career: you need hands-on experience in your field of choice, too.

The majority of employers — 79 percent, in fact – expect work experience from college graduates as they evaluate potential hires. Under FWS, all of the positions offered are supposed to be related to a student’s educational goals to the “maximum extent practicable” but that’s not what is happening.

In other words, many students are working jobs unrelated to their academic programs. Forty-seven percent of FWS job placements are unrelated to a student’s career or academic interests.

So what’s a low-income student, who’s dependent on supplemental income through FWS, to do if he or she also needs career-relevant experience?

Read more here.

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Will Millennials ever be able to retire? It’s a “question mark.”

By Jessica Adair

In a world where everyone loves to comment on Millennial finances, Jen Mishory, Executive Director of Young Invincibles and David John, Senior Policy Advisor at AARP took to PBS NewsHour to discuss an oft-neglected topic: retirement.

Millennials expect to retire at age 65, though if tough financial circumstances today give us any clues about the future, it could be difficult to retire at the same rate as our parents’ generation — or at all.

In other words, our generation isn’t even beginning to save money. But, it isn’t because we don’t want to.

JM PBSAs Mishory points out, Millennials want to save for retirement, but we’re “seeing an economic picture that’s tough for this generation to then be thinking about socking away money for the long term.”

According to John, when Millennials have the option to use a retirement account through payroll deduction, they participate more than other generations did at this age. But, and this is the big catch, only half of young adults have access to 401k plans or IRAs. Those nice defined benefit pension plans of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations? Most Millennials would be lucky to see one.

The rise of part-time employment across our generation could explain why fewer Millennials have access to retirement accounts. A quarter of all young adults are working in part-time jobs, which rarely offer such benefits. While many young adults may hold multiple part-time jobs, freelance or make money through a “side hustle,” a combination of part-time jobs and income sources does not equal a full-time job with benefits.

While it is possible to save for retirement without an employer-based account, most people, regardless of age, cannot. It’s especially tough for young adults. Millennials now have a savings rate of negative two percent.

It’s not a lack of financial responsibility — young adults are overwhelmingly saddled with student loan debt. In the United States, student loan debt has ballooned to over $1.2 trillion, passing up credit card and mortgage debt as the number one wealth accumulation killer.

But student debt is just one piece of the Millennial economic puzzle. Our generation was the biggest casualty of the Great Recession. And we’re still struggling. As America’s economy begins to recover, young adults, particularly young African-Americans and Latinos, continue to struggle with high rates of unemployment.

Even for those lucky enough to have a job, wages for young adults have bottomed out, falling in nearly every major industry. Adjusting for inflation, real wages for young adults are growing 60% more slowly than wages for other age groups. Young adults’ wages simply aren’t keeping up with where other generations were at our age before the Great Recession.

John recommends starting young to have the best shot of securing a nest egg sufficient to carry you through retirement. It’s sage advice, but obviously difficult to do when unemployed, your wages have flattened or you graduated from college with $30,000 in student loan debt.

To avoid a serious problem in the future, states should focus now on making sure young adults aren’t forced to take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt by reinvesting in higher education to bring down the cost of college. And Congress should do everything in its power to pass commonsense legislation that supports job-training programs, for example, to help young people land a job, contribute to today’s economy and start saving.

Watch the full segment here.

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As More Millennials Get Covered, Grassroots Push Aims To Take Enrollment Numbers To New Heights

By Jessica Adair

On Saturday, 2,500 people gathered at a park in downtown Houston to enjoy the outdoors ahead of the salty, sweaty heat that creeps up from the Gulf of Mexico come spring – and to take advantage of a major opportunity that presented itself, alongside Zumba classes, food trucks and prizes: affordable health care.

2015-01-24 15.07.23

Young families attend gather at an outdoor concert and health care event in Houston.

You read that right. In the middle of this outdoor fiesta, young Houstonians learned about low-cost insurance. As a preview to National Youth Enrollment Day – the biggest day of enrollment activities this year, organized by dozens of community organizations for Millennials – health care advocates mobilized young Texans to show up and sign up.

This outside-of-the-box effort to help young people get covered is being emulated nationwide this week at approximately 200 events across the country – and we expect every event will pay off.

Already, the data shows grassroots efforts to date are yielding good results. Young adults are already enrolling at a higher rate than they were at this point in Open Enrollment last year; 26% of this year’s enrollees are between the ages of 18 and 34. That number is likely to rise. During last year’s Open Enrollment period, many young adults waited until the last minute to sign up for coverage.

Event attendees in Houston

Event attendees in Houston

For young people, who may be shopping for health insurance for the first time, the health insurance sign-up process can seem daunting and expensive. But, nearly 90% of enrollees are eligible for financial assistance when they sign up for coverage through the marketplace. This is good news – and something to celebrate.

So that’s what we’re doing this week – celebrating, and inviting fellow Millennials nationwide to join us for events featuring entertainment and enrollment help.

Whether it’s Zumba in Houston, a concert in Philadelphia, a poetry slam in Chicago or enrollment at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we’re meeting young people where they are in order to help them learn about health insurance.

Though young people did get covered in high numbers during last year’s Open Enrollment period, nearly 1 in 5 young adults still lack health insurance. In 2013, the year before the Health Insurance Marketplace opened up, 3 out of every 5 personal bankruptcies were due to medical debt.

For young people who haven’t had the opportunity to accrue years’ worth of savings, one accident could wipe out their entire bank account.

The National Youth Enrollment Day fun doesn’t stop on the ground. We’re hosting a variety of events online to get the word out about health insurance. For example, join Young Invincibles on Instagram for health care trivia on Thursday! Check out #YoEnroll on Instagram and Twitter to see live updates of events across the nation.

Ready to see what all the fun is about? Go to nationalyouthenrollmentday.org to find an event near you!

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Surgeon General, Young Invincibles & Enroll America To Discuss Millennial Enrollment Efforts Ahead Of National Youth Enrollment Day

Approximately 200 Events Across The Country Will Encourage Millennials To Sign Up For Health Care Coverage This Week

January 27, 2015

Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org585.746.8281;
Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org214.223.2913;
Justin Nisly, jnisly@enrollamerica.org202.601.2494

[WASHINGTON] – On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, Young Invincibles, Enroll America and a young newly insured Millennial will host a conference call to discuss grassroots efforts to enroll Millennials nationwide around National Youth Enrollment Day, the biggest annual day of Millennial enrollment outreach across the country.

Please RSVP here to join us for tomorrow’s call.

Tuesday, January 27

WHAT: Conference call to discuss upcoming enrollment efforts tied to National Youth Enrollment Day

WHO: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, Executive Director of Young Invincibles Jen Mishory, President of Enroll America Anne Filipic and a young person who recently benefited from a new low-cost plan.

TIME: 2:30 pm ET

RSVP: Please reply here to join us on tomorrow’s call!

Following the call, approximately 200 young adult-focused health care fairs will take place across the country, along with a coordinated social media effort to provide young people with the facts and tools they need to get covered this enrollment season.


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How North Carolina Can Help Struggling Millennials, And Boost Its Economy

By Colin Seeberger

This week, North Carolina kicks off what is bound to be a raucous 2015 legislative session. With important debates looming around the state’s support for higher education and access to affordable health care for young North Carolinians, the state might as well call this session: the Millennial legislative session.

As economic recovery begins, the General Assembly must decide how to invest in the state’s future. It should start by looking at two systems it has neglected – higher education and health care – and how these decisions affect young adults and the state’s economy.

Recent cuts to higher education threaten to drive tuition prices higher. Since the Great Recession, North Carolina has cut higher education spending per student by 13%, helping drive tuition at its 4-year public universities up by 35% – or twice the rate of inflation.

It makes sense that during an economic downturn, North Carolina – like many states – cut corners. But today, as more people go back to work, it is not fair to ask North Carolina students to pay more in tuition while the state doles out corporate welfare.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what’s been happening. In fact, North Carolina faces a budget shortfall of nearly $200 million, largely due to a series of tax reforms.

Rather than reinvest in its young people, the state has prioritized additional tax cuts that threaten economic growth. The General Assembly and Governor must reinvest in higher education this year to change this – and fast. 

Yet combating college costs isn’t the only thing that North Carolina Millennials will keep an eye on this legislative session. There’s one other big economic challenge facing our generation. As the state’s most uninsured age group, young adults in North Carolina need expanded access to affordable health care coverage.

Unfortunately during the last legislative session, the General Assembly rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion to accept billions in federal funding to provide free health coverage to the state’s poorest adults. North Carolina decided 553,000 of its lowest-income residents were too poor to be given access to an affordable coverage option. Up to 47% of these North Carolinians locked out of affordable health care are Millennials.


Ultimately, those who are suffering from the General Assembly’s refusal are North Carolina’s hardest workers — many work in restaurants or retail stores, while many more are in school working towards a degree. In a recent survey, 69% of young adults who did not complete college said that having insurance would have helped them “a lot” at earning a degree. Because earning a college degree can improve a person’s chance of landing a job to contribute to the economy, North Carolina needs to make it easier for its Millennials to get a degree, not harder.

Yet North Carolina is choosing to leave $51 billion on the table by refusing to expand Medicaid, while suffering from a significant revenue shortfall. Expanding coverage isn’t just a decision that would give North Carolina’s uninsured population greater financial and health security, it would also improve the state’s fiscal health.

It’s time for the North Carolina legislature to say that the interests of its young people are more important than partisan bickering and strident ideologies – and critical to economic stability.

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