Workers under the age of 34 face higher unemployment rates than older workers and make up nearly half of the currently unemployed. As student debt continues to build up—exceeding even credit card debt—and wages stagnate or fall for workers with or without a college degree, young workers are accruing less wealth than their parents—perhaps the first time in U.S. history when a generation has failed to do better than its parents. Young workers struggle to find work and often take jobs that are below their education and skill level or bounce from contract to unpaid internship to temp job without the stability of a full-time regular job but with all the long hours and hard work.
The U.S. economy continues to trudge along in a recovery that most of us—especially young workers—have yet to experience, while some Washington, D.C., elites seem to think that the prescription for high unemployment and slow growth is just more austerity. (Like medieval doctors, they want to apply more leeches to cure the patient’s anemia!)
But if you ask young workers, we’ll tell you that sequestration and austerity—fancy words for terrible ideas—are not on our agenda. What is on our economic policy agenda?
On May 8, the AFL-CIO Next Up program, in partnership with Campus Progress, Generational Alliance, the Young Invincibles, the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and Jobs with Justice, will host the National Youth Economic Policy Forum. This event is the first of its kind: Young workers and youth activists will gather together at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss the state of the economy and begin the process of building an economic policy platform for the millennial generation.
Participants will engage in in-depth conversations on education access and student debt, economic inequality, job creation and youth unemployment, the federal budget and building a modern workplace. They will be joined by Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minn.); state Rep. Kevin Killer (D-S.D.); Portia Wu, White House Domestic Policy council member and special assistant to the president for Labor and Workforce Policy; and AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler for a panel discussion and Q&A on building a sustainable economy.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will introduce the panel.
Have a question for our policymakers panel? An idea for an action? Suggestions for how to build shared prosperity? You can join us online on Twitter by following the hashtag #YEPF. We’ll be live-tweeting the policymakers panel and taking your questions for the panelists.
This forum will be the first of many events to engage young workers and activists around economic issues.
Stay tuned for more information about how you can get involved with Next Up and the AFL-CIO’s youth policy program.