SOURCE: Generation Opportunity

Generation Opportunity

October 20, 2012 18:13 ET

As Student Debt Rises, Young Voters Value Full-Time Jobs Over Lower Interest Rates

64 Percent of 18-29 Year Olds Say the Availability of Quality, Full-Time Jobs Is More Important Than Lower Student Loan Interest Rates

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Oct 20, 2012) - Generation Opportunity is the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in the United States, engaging and mobilizing young Americans (18-29 years old) on the important economic issues facing the nation. Since its launch in June of 2011, Generation Opportunity has amassed a following of over 4 million fans on Facebook and is actively organizing millennials across the country through grassroots tactics, voter registration, and voter turnout efforts.

"Escalating student loan debt and the inability to repay student loans due to the lack of full-time jobs are significant sources of concern for undergraduates and graduates. Young Americans are sending a very clear message to the President and other elected leaders -- the availability of meaningful, full-time jobs that provide the opportunity to be independent and to plan for the future are far more important than issues such as student loan rates. Young people know the root issue is the lack of real job opportunities, not further dependence on government, so that they can get on with their lives, provide for themselves, and pay back their education and other loans," said Paul T. Conway, President of Generation Opportunity and former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Labor.

"This generation is very savvy -- they are used to customizing everything from their coffees to their iPhones and do not appreciate the lack of choice in the most significant issues they face: planning for their future and building a career. The more politicians avoid discussing details on how they will get government out of the way of full-time job creation and reverse record high youth unemployment, the more politicians are viewed as either disingenuous or completely out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of young Americans. It should come as no surprise that young people don't believe their interests are being represented in Washington and plan on making their voices heard in the presidential election in November."

Earlier this week, the California-based Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) released a study on student loan debt. The report found that Class of 2011 college graduates who took out student loans held $26,600 in student loan debt on average, up from $25,250 in 2010. The increase was similar to recent one-year increases according to the report. Approximately two-thirds of 2011 graduates took out student loans and private (non-federal) loans made up one fifth of the total debt.

In May, Rutgers University's Heldrich Center for Workforce Development released a study on recent college graduates. They found that only 51% of recent college graduates are employed full-time. Of those who found work, just 4 in 10 reported that their job required a four-year degree. Over half of the survey respondents reported that their starting salary was less than they expected it to be.

For Generation Opportunity, the polling company, inc./WomanTrend conducted a nationwide online survey of 1,003 adults ages 18-29 between July 27 and July 31, 2012. Randomly selected online opt-in panel participants were sent an invitation to the survey via email which included a secure link to the online questionnaire. Quotas were used to ensure the survey was representative of the larger 18-29 year old nationwide population with regard to race, region, and gender. The data were NOT weighted. The overall sampling margin of error for the survey is +/-3.1% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that the data obtained would not differ more than 3.1 percentage points in 95 out of 100 similar samples obtained.


  • 64% of young people ages 18-29 believe the availability of more quality, full-time jobs upon graduation is more important than lower student loan interest rates.

  • 84% of young people ages 18-29 had planned to but now might delay or not make at all a major life change or move forward on a major purchase due to the current state of the economy (Accepted multiple responses) (Randomized):
    • 38% - Buy their own place;
    • 32% - Go back to school/getting more education or training;
    • 31% - Start a family;
    • 27% - Change jobs/cities;
    • 26% - Pay off student loans or other debt;
    • 25% - Save for retirement;
    • 23% - Get married;
    • 12% - None of the above (accepted only this response);
    • 4% - Do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).


  • Just 38% believe that today's political leaders reflect the interests of young Americans.

  • 76% of millennials plan to vote in the election for President this year.


Earlier this month, Generation Opportunity released the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) unemployment data for millennials for September 2012, based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for September 2012 is 11.8 percent (NSA).

  • The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans for September 2012 is 21.0 percent (NSA); the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for September 2012 is 12.1 percent (NSA); and the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old women for September 2012 is 11.6 percent (NSA).

  • The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as "unemployed" by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.
  • If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.6 percent (NSA).


Generation Opportunity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501 (c)(4) organization that seeks to engage everyone from young adults, to early career professionals, college students, young mothers and fathers, construction workers, current service men and women, veterans, entrepreneurs, and all Americans who find themselves dissatisfied with the status quo and willing to create a better tomorrow.

Generation Opportunity operates on a strategy that combines advanced social media tactics with proven field tactics to reach Americans 18-29. The organization's social media platforms -- "Being American by GO," "The Constitution by GO," "Gas Prices Are Too Damn High," "Lower Taxes by GO," "Keep Texas Awesome," "Jersey Proud," and "We Like Small Government" on Facebook -- have amassed a total fan base of more than 4 million. The pages post links to relevant articles and reports from sources ranging from the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO), to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Brookings Institution, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and The Heritage Foundation.

Read about Generation Opportunity here; visit "Being American by GO" on Facebook here, "The Constitution by GO" on Facebook here"Gas Prices Are Too Damn High" on Facebook here, "Lower Taxes by GO" on Facebook here, "Keep Texas Awesome" on Facebook here, "Jersey Proud" on Facebook here, and "We Like Small Government" on Facebook here.

For our Spanish-language page -- Generación Oportunidad -- click here.

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