Gen Zers graduated into a pandemic and may be facing a recession, but they’re winning this job market


Most of the class of 2020 left college with no official graduation, an uncertain job market, and, if they were lucky, tense family walks during the lockdown. Post-grad life proved slow and difficult for college grads just two years ago, with only half of them holding traditional full-time jobs six months after receiving their diplomas.

But the job market has since bounced back for those kicking off their careers. In a piece for CNN, LinkedIn chief economist Karin Kimbrough wrote that Gen Z graduates have entered a more positive workforce than their slightly older peers. 

"Fast-forward two years, and the picture looks much brighter for Gen Z and younger millennials joining the workforce today,” says Kimbrough. “Despite recent headwinds like inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions driving economic uncertainty, opportunities still abound for entry-level roles in the US."

Pulling from a recent LinkedIn report, Kimbrough attributes the entry-level job upswing to four factors: a 25% increase in hiring rates from 2020 to 2021; more roles for young workers in the more affordable Sunbelt region; rebounding job growth in industries hit hard by the pandemic, like hospitality and health care; and the evolution of in-demand job skills. 

At the risk of jinxing the class of 2022, it’s a rosy picture for those looking to land an entry-level position. They’re faring much better than older millennials who graduated during the Great Recession and entered a bleak job market that delayed their career trajectories, life milestones, and ability to accumulate wealth. When Gen Z workers enter the workforce, they're doing so on their own terms.

A robust labor market has Gen Z job-hopping

LinkedIn’s optimistic outlook explains why Gen Zers are helping to lead the Great Resignation. About 65% of Gen Z workers plan on leaving their jobs in less than a year, compared to 40% of all employees, per a recent report from talent acquisition platform Lever. Many young employees have found that job-hopping leads to paying bumps, making it easier for them to pay student loans and afford today’s inflated cost of living.

Aware of the newfound demand for talent during the Great Resignation, they can sometimes afford to be more selective and demanding. This has earned the generation a reputation for directly asking for work-life flexibility, better benefits, and a more fitting work culture. 

While some prospective Gen Z employees might be nervous about the market, having heard horror stories from older classes that dealt with a different beast, the class of 2022 speaks with a sense of empowerment when it comes to selecting new jobs.

“We’ve gone through so much as students, and we’re not going to settle now, as employees,” Dakotah Jennifer, 21, told Fortune in May.

Despite warnings of a recession, the job market has yet to hit the class of 2022 (knock on wood). And if you look at Kimbrough’s advice, it might be time to strike while the iron is hot for entry-level workers.

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