UCLA Labor Center

I am a #YoungWorker

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a young worker in today’s workforce?

Many people think that young workers are working just for extra money for clothes, phones, or going out. But in reality, they work to support their families, make less than previous generations, and experience a higher unemployment rate than other workers. Young workers are the future of the country’s workforce– what happens to them has huge implications for how work is changing today.

Why care about young workers?

On November 18, 2015, we released a report on the young workforce. I am a #YoungWorker is a multimedia research project that combines data, stories, and images by and for young people. It gets to the core of what young workers face today– their struggles, their dreams, and their hopes for the future. The culmination of participatory student-led research over the past year, this report analyzes over 550 surveys of young workers across Los Angeles county. Download the report.

Some of the key findings:

  • Young people work to live, not to play. 48% of young workers give money to support their families. Less than 1% spend their earnings solely on recreational or leisure activities.
  • Young workers juggle out of control schedules. 9 out of 10 of young workers don’t have a set schedule. Many rearrange their lives around their employer’s needs by being “on-call.”
  • Young workers face difficult working conditions. Nearly a quarter of young workers weren’t paid for all the hours they worked. 62% don’t receive any benefits, such as healthcare and paid sick days.