The weak job market has altered young adults’ lives and aspirations, the report found. It backs up earlier studies showing that young adults have had to delay major life decisions.
The share of young adults with jobs has hit its lowest level since the government started keeping records just after World War II.
By the end of 2011, only 54.3% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 were employed, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday. And the gap in employment between the young and all working-age adults is roughly 15 percentage points — the widest on record.
The Great Recession hurt the young more than most other age groups. Their employment decline has been steeper and their median weekly earnings fell by 6%, while holding steady for others, Pew found.
Only part of this can be explained by the growth in college attendance. While a greater share of 18- to 24-year-olds are in school than ever before, the employment rate has fallen regardless of enrollment.
For those in college, only 40.7% had jobs last year, down from 47.6% in 2007. And the employment rate for young adults not in school dropped to 65%, from 73.2% in 2007.