Gen Z is winning the job market, despite going through a pandemic

Most of the class of 2020 left college without an official degree, with an uncertain job market and, if they were lucky, strained family walks during the lockdown. Just two years ago, life after graduation proved slow and difficult for college graduates, with only half of them working full-time traditional jobs six months after graduating.

But the job market has since rebounded for those starting their careers. In an article for CNN, LinkedIn chief economist Karin Kimbrough wrote that Gen Z graduates entered a more positive workforce than their slightly older peers.

“Fast forward two years, and the picture looks much brighter for Gen Z and millennials entering the workforce today,” Kimbrough says. “Despite recent headwinds such as inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions that are fueling economic uncertainty, opportunities still abound for entry-level positions in the United States.”

Drawing from a recent LinkedIn report, Kimbrough attributes the rise in entry-level jobs to four factors: a 25% increase in hiring rates from 2020 to 2021; more roles for young workers in the more affordable Sunbelt region; the resumption of job growth in sectors hard hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality and healthcare; and the development of in-demand professional 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 are doing much better than older millennials who graduated during the Great Recession and entered a sluggish job market that set back their career trajectory, life stages, and ability to accumulate wealth. When Gen Z workers enter the workforce, they do so on their own terms.

A robust labor market is pushing Gen Z to change jobs

LinkedIn’s optimistic outlook explains why Gen Zers are helping lead the Great Resignation. About 65% of Gen Z workers plan to leave their jobs in less than a year, compared to 40% of all employees, according to a recent report by talent acquisition platform Lever. Many younger employees have found that changing jobs leads to salary increases, making it easier for them to pay off 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 demanding work-life flexibility, better benefits, and a more responsive work culture.

While some potential Gen Z employees might be nervous about the market after hearing horror stories of older classes who have dealt with a different beast, the Class of 2022 speaks with a sense of empowerment when it’s about selecting new jobs.

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

Despite recession warnings, the labor market has yet to reach 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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