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Report: Job Market and Wage Growth Look Good for the Class of 2024

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 17, 2024


Generation Z may be entering the workforce at the right time, compared to previous generations, according to an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report, Fast Company reported.

While Gen X contended with the 1992 recession, and millennials with the 2008 financial crisis, Gen-Zers , post-pandemic, are encountering a more welcoming work scenario. “Following the pandemic economic shock, young college graduates have experienced a much faster bounceback in the labor market and stronger wage growth than any recovery in recent history,” the EPI report stated.

The unemployment rate for college graduates has recovered more than 2.5 times faster than during the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008–09. Young college graduates experienced 2.2 percent real wage growth between February 2020 and March 2024, the EPI reported.

As of March 2024, 65.2 percent of young college graduates were employed, while only 10 percent awere out of school but not working. Young Gen Z graduates have experienced inflation-adjusted wage growth at a faster rate than any other generation in at least the past 30 years, the EPI found. By contrast, young graduates saw wage losses of 4.9 percent after the Great Recession of 2008, losses of 4.3 percent between 2001 and 2005, and losses of 7.5 percent between 1990 and 1994.

Furthermore, nearly 83 percent of employers anticipate increasing or maintaining their hiring of the class of 2024, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Yet racial and gender wage gaps remain large, even among college graduates beginning their careers. On average, women are paid $5.30 less per hour than their male counterparts, while Black and Hispanic workers are paid $3.24 and $2.07 less per hour, respectively, than white workers, according to the report.

To help Gen Zers maintain their momentum, the EPI said that racial and gender pay gaps need to be addressed, and that “policymakers must prioritize full employment, increase the federal minimum wage, strengthen and enforce labor standards, and make it easier for workers to come together and form unions.”