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Nearly Twice as Many Young Adults Say They Would Rather Work on Wall Street Than Protest Against It

76 percent say the lack of job opportunities is shrinking the middle class, as young adult unemployment remains at 12.7 percent

Washington, DC – (9/17/12) – Generation Opportunity, the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization in the United States engaging and mobilizing young Americans (18-29 years old) on the important economic issues facing the nation, released new polling data today on Millennials on the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Since its launch in June of 2011, Generation Opportunity has amassed a following of over 4 million fans on Facebook and is actively organizing Millennials across the country through grassroots tactics, voter registration, and voter turnout efforts.

“Young adults have been negatively impacted by the poor economy, high unemployment, and the lack of jobs both in their daily lives and in their long-term career plans and dreams. Amidst their frustrations and disappointments, the overwhelming majority of Millennials view the poor economy and lack of leadership by elected officials as the true sources of their problems – not fellow Americans who work on Wall Street. Young Americans reject the cynicism and angry theatrics aimed at those who can create more full-time jobs; instead, they simply want positive solutions that grow the economy and create more opportunity for all Americans,” said Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity and former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Labor. “Young adults believe elected officials fail to represent their concerns and best interests, are clearly fed up with the status quo, and plan on making their voices heard in November.”

The ineffectiveness of Occupy Wall Street to capture the enthusiasm of or inspire activism among a wide number of young adults across America was documented by the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) at the end of last year. According to a December 2011 IOP study, just 2% of 18-29 year olds had participated in Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, and only 11% knew someone personally who participated in the effort (http://www.iop.harvard.edu/sites/default/files_new/fall_poll_11_M_topline.pdf).

The lack of full-time jobs and economic opportunity due to the poor economy continue to impact young Americans on a daily basis, jeopardizing their careers and dreams. Earlier this month, Generation Opportunity released the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) unemployment data for Millennials for August 2012. The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for August 2012 is 12.7 percent (NSA). The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans for August 2012 is 22.4 percent (NSA); the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for August 2012 is 13.7 percent (NSA); and the youth unemployment rate for 18–29 year old women for August 2012 is 12.6 percent (NSA). The declining labor participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs. If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.7 percent (NSA).

For Generation Opportunity, the polling company, inc./WomanTrend conducted a nationwide online survey of 1,003 adults ages 18-29 between July 27 and July 31, 2012. Randomly selected online opt-in panel participants were sent an invitation to the survey via email which included a secure link to the online questionnaire. Quotas were used to ensure the survey was representative of the larger 18-29 year old nationwide population with regard to race, region, and gender. The data were NOT weighted. The overall sampling margin of error for the survey is ±3.1% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that the data obtained would not differ more than 3.1 percentage points in 95 out of 100 similar samples obtained.

  • 47% of Millennials would rather be employed by Wall Street than protest Wall Street.
  • Only 26% would prefer protesting Wall Street over working on Wall Street.
  • 76% believe that the lack of job opportunities is shrinking the American middle class.
  • Just 38% believe that today’s political leaders reflect the interests of young Americans.
  • 76% of Millennials plan to vote in the election for President this year.
  • 89% of young people ages 18-29 say the current state of the economy is impacting their day-to-day lives (Accepted multiple responses) (Randomized):
  • 51% reduced their entertainment budget;
  • 43% reduced their grocery/food budget;
  • 43% cut back on gifts for friends and family;
  • 40% skipped a vacation;
  • 38% driven less;
  • 36% taken active steps to reduce home energy costs;
  • 32% tried to find an additional job;
  • 27% sold personal items or property (cars, electronic appliances, or other possessions);
  • 26% changed their living situation (moved in with family, taken extra roommates, downgraded apartment or home);
  • 17% skipped a wedding, family reunion, or other significant social event;
  • 1% other;
  • 8% none of the above (accepted only this response);
  • 3% do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).
  • 84% of young people ages 18-29 had planned to but now might delay or not make at all a major life change or move forward on a major purchase due to the current state of the economy (Accepted multiple responses) (Randomized):
  • 38% buy their own place;
  • 32% go back to school/getting more education or training;
  • 31% start a family;
  • 27% change jobs/cities;
  • 26% pay off student loans or other debt;
  • 25% save for retirement;
  • 23% get married;
  • 12% none of the above (accepted only this response);
  • 4% do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).

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