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I am a #YoungWorker

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a young worker in today’s workforce?

Many people think that young workers are working just for extra money for clothes, phones, or going out. But in reality, they work to support their families, make less than previous generations, and experience a higher unemployment rate than other workers. Young workers are the future of the country’s workforce– what happens to them has huge implications for how work is changing today.

Why care about young workers?

On November 18, 2015, we released a report on the young workforce. I am a #YoungWorker is a multimedia research project that combines data, stories, and images by and for young people. It gets to the core of what young workers face today– their struggles, their dreams, and their hopes for the future. The culmination of participatory student-led research over the past year, this report analyzes over 550 surveys of young workers across Los Angeles county. Download the report.

Some of the key findings:

  • Young people work to live, not to play. 48% of young workers give money to support their families. Less than 1% spend their earnings solely on recreational or leisure activities.
  • Young workers juggle out of control schedules. 9 out of 10 of young workers don’t have a set schedule. Many rearrange their lives around their employer’s needs by being “on-call.”
  • Young workers face difficult working conditions. Nearly a quarter of young workers weren’t paid for all the hours they worked. 62% don’t receive any benefits, such as healthcare and paid sick days.

Also, on the same date, the UCLA Labor Center opened a photography exhibit showcasing photos of young workers by collective SolArt. Student researcher Enedina Geraldo shared her story, and close to 100 attendees enjoyed live performances by singer songwriter Diana Gameros and theater by Teada Productions. View photos from the event.

In collaboration with the UCLA Department of History, the UCLA Labor Center premiered animated short film, I am a #YOUNGWORKER. The film combines young worker experiences and research data into a powerful and artistic animated story. The film premiered at a lively event at the UCLA Labor Center showcasing arts-based social justice activities, featuring Sessions LA, a hip hop music production program for Los Angeles youth.

Watch the film here– and please share it widely!

We are proud to announce that our animated film “I am a #YOUNGWORKER” is part of the Social Justice Film Festival’s official selection for 2016!


Media Links

Al Jazeera America – Young people work to survive, not play

Annenberg TV News – New Study Sheds Light On Young Workers’ Experiences

Annenberg TV News – Wages Are Dropping For LA County Young Workers

Daily Bruin – UCLA Labor Center, SolArt document struggles of young workers in LA

KCET Departures – Speaking Out on Labor Inequality and Misperceptions of Young Workers

KCET Departures – Young Workers, Low-Wage Workers: UCLA Study Finds that Millennials are Among the Lowest Paid in LA County

KPCC – At jobs fair, teenagers and young adults want to work for more than just pocket money

UCLA Newsroom – UCLA students document experiences of L.A.’s young workers