Young workers are the faces that greet us in coffee shops, fast food establishments, retail stores, restaurants, and grocery markets. Over a quarter of all Los Angeles workers are between the ages of 16-30. They are a core part of our economy, yet in LA County, their unemployment rate is double the national rate at 16%.
Early labor market experiences play a central role in shaping earnings and career trajectories; thus, they can have lasting consequences for economic security and patterns of economic inequality over their lives. This is why the misconception of young workers being “seen as basically unskilled, non-essential and easy to replace,” is so damaging. Ultimately, the goal of the study is to impact policies that will increase wages and promote equality and mobility among young workers currently employed in low-wage service sector labor markets.
“The fact that so many people call this young generation privileged ‘millenials’ just shows how distanced perception is from the reality of what young people face today in the workplace,” says Saba Waheed, research director at the UCLA Labor Center. “Intervening early could have a huge impact on the future of work in Los Angeles.”
This is why the UCLA Labor Center has embarked upon a research project to learn about the experiences of young workers in Los Angeles county.
Since fall of 2014, students from classes in UCLA’s Labor and Workplace studies minor have been actively engaged in a participatory research project to survey young workers across Los Angeles county. As young workers themselves, they are leading the research and developing quantitative and analytical research skills.
Initial findings will be published at the end of April, with full findings forthcoming this fall.
For more information, contact Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director.
Al Jazeera America – Young people work to survive, not play
Annenberg TV News – New Study Sheds Light On Young Workers’ Experiences
Annenberg TV News – Wages Are Dropping For LA County Young Workers
KCET Departures – Speaking Out on Labor Inequality and Misperceptions of Young Workers
UCLA Newsroom – UCLA students document experiences of L.A.’s young workers