Monday, September 07, 2009

Laboring on Labor Day‏

Labor Day is a federal holiday. So why will 31 percent of young workers be on the job that day? That's compared with just 23 percent of workers older than 35, and it's just one of the ways young workers are struggling, according to a survey done by Working America and the AFL-CIO.

We knew this economy was tough for everyone, but some things we learned from these young workers were truly shocking, especially when we compared them with what a similar group of young workers told us a decade ago.

  • 31 percent of young workers do not have health insurance. In 1999, that number was only 24 percent.
  • 36 percent of young workers worry about not being able to get a permanent, full-time job with benefits. In 1999, only 27 percent did.
  • Today, 24 percent of young workers told us their income was less than what they needed to pay the bills. Ten years ago, just 10 percent said the same.

But perhaps most shocking is the question we didn't think we had to ask in 1999: Today, one-third of workers younger than 35 still live with their own or their spouse's parents. Those who earn less than $30,000 per year are equally likely to live with parents. That's a generation that has been prevented by economic uncertainty from reaching an independent adulthood. (And a generation of parents who never thought they'd still have kids at home.)

With figures like these, it's clear there are a lot of working people out there—young and not-so-young—with stories to tell. We want to hear those stories, from searching for the right job to the effects of not having health insurance. We want to hear how you make it work as an adult living in your parents' house—or how you make it as a parent with your grown child still at home.

All week, Working America's Main Street blog will be highlighting things we've learned from this survey. Please stop by and tell us your story. Help us put a human face on the statistics.


Working America, AFL-CIO

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