November 18, 2014

Federal Reserve Board report highlights findings of 2013 Survey of Young Workers

For release at 10:00 a.m. EST

The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday published a new report, based on its 2013 Survey of Young Workers, that provides insight into numerous labor market topics, including the educational attainment, work experience, and expectations of adults aged 18 to 30.

In the Shadow of the Great Recession: Experiences and Perspectives of Young Workers, takes an in-depth look at the experiences and aspirations of young adults entering the workforce. Despite a changing labor market that is recovering slowly from the recession, many young adults remain optimistic about their job future. The survey found that 45 percent of respondents are optimistic about future employment opportunities compared to 21 percent who are pessimistic and 34 percent who are not sure. Respondents with higher levels of education, work experience, and job opportunities were more likely to be optimistic about their job future than respondents who lack such skills and experiences.

The survey results show that young workers are responding to the labor market's increasing demand for postsecondary credentials and degrees. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents reported that they have the level of education and training needed for the type of job they would like to hold in the next five years. The respondents' confidence in their education increased with each level of attainment. In addition, nearly one-third of the total respondents are currently enrolled in an education or training program. Nonstudents who are interested in additional education named financial considerations as their top barriers to enrollment.

Despite the importance of education and work experience, intangibles still play a role in the labor market. According to the survey results, finding a job is still heavily based on personal connections. Respondents identified personal networks as a primary source in their job search process.

The survey found that young workers value job stability. When given the choice, respondents generally preferred steady employment (67 percent) to higher pay (30 percent). Jobs that are permanent and full-time are associated with "careers" and upward mobility, while opportunities associated with part-time and temporary work are less clear.

A live stream discussion of this report will take place at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 19. The discussion can be viewed at

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Last Update: November 18, 2014