Millennials Having Trouble Finding Full-Time Work

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

June 15 — Many younger “millennial” workers are seeking alternatives to traditional full-time employment, as it often remains out of reach, according to consultants and a recent survey.

The unemployment rate for workers age 20 to 24, a subset of the 18-to-34-year-old millennials, was 8.4 percent in March, compared with 5 percent overall, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was noted by Matawan, N.J.-based talent acquisition software provider iCIMS in a hiring trends report released June 14.

Those numbers jibe with an estimate provided by Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at New York City-based executive development company Future Workplace. “While the U.S. unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, down from 9.6 percent in 2010, the number doesn't include those who have given up on searching for work or those who are underemployed,” he told Bloomberg BNA in a June 13 e-mail.

“Many millennials fall into both of those categories and although they may have degrees, they are in jobs they are overqualified for and that doesn't leverage their coursework. They are baristas at Starbucks or are a sales associate at a retail store even though they may have a bachelor or master's degree,” Schawbel said.

“The longer they are out of work, or are underemployed, the harder it is to secure a good job and the harsher the impact it will have over their long-term earning potential,” he added.

Response to Shifting Conditions

Millennials are trying hard to respond to these difficult and rapidly changing conditions. In the first quarter, there were 37 applicants for each internship, an increasingly common way for millennials to enter the job market, compared with 26 applicants for each full-time job filled, and the share of U.S. workers laboring in the on-call “gig” economy has risen, by one estimate, “from 10.1 percent a decade ago to 15.8 percent as of late 2015,” iCIMS said.

“It's a tough time to be coming of age in America right now and entering the labor market,” Josh Wright, iCIMS chief economist, told Bloomberg BNA in a June 14 interview. As the gig economy takes off, he said, “a full-time job as we thought of it in the 20th century is going to become a smaller share of the opportunities for younger workers going forward.”

By 2020, some 40 percent of U.S. workers will be “independent workers,” not necessarily the same thing as the DOL category of independent contractors, he added. Still, much remains to be learned about the gig economy, its true extent and the reasons for its growth, Wright said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at mbermangorvine@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at tharris@bna.com

For More Information

The iCIMS hiring trends report for the first quarter of 2016 is available at https://www.icims.com/sites/www.icims.com/files/public/hei_assets/Q1-2016_US-HiringTrends-final.pdf.