Building Wealth for Gen Z
January 29, 2021
By Matt Hughes
How policy can help new labor market entrants.
The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top stories of the week.
A Gen Z Policy Agenda
“We’re a long way from a full recovery,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said this week.
That checks out. One year into the pandemic, a US economy that’s already lost nine million jobs since last winter is slowing again.
“Growing at November’s pace of 245,000 new jobs, it will take 40 months to regain jobs lost since the start of the pandemic . . .” Adam S. Hersh and Roosevelt Fellow Mark Paul wrote for Groundwork Collaborative last month. Even that pace “would still leave jobless new entrants to the labor force and those in disguised unemployment.”
And that was before we learned 140,000 jobs were shed in December, with Black and Latina women experiencing the steepest losses.
Entering the labor market during a pandemic-driven double-dip recession is the height of bad luck. And as the Great Recession taught us, graduating into a recession can harm wealth and earning potential well after an immediate crisis ends.
To ensure that bad luck doesn’t follow Gen Z for a lifetime, we must act now. As Roosevelt Managing Director of Research and Policy Suzanne Kahn explains in a new report, revamping our social insurance system can:
- reduce the long-term effects of recessions on new labor market entrants;
- increase these workers’ long-term attachment to the labor market overall;
- stimulate the economy; and
- address racial and educational disparities.
A complementary solution: student debt cancellation. For a primer on its many benefits, read Roosevelt’s new fact sheet: Unburdened: How Canceling Student Debt Can Boost Growth, Equity, and Innovation.
After years of costly backslide, these policies—and the explicit linkage of climate change mitigation and economic gain—are a welcome course correction.
But the magnitude of this moment demands deeper investment and swifter transformation. Two new Roosevelt fact sheets capture the economic and human potential.
- Climate-Forward: How Green Investment Can Stimulate Our Economy Today and Sustain Long-Term Growth
- Fiscal Policy Is Climate Policy: How Curbing Corporate Power Can Address the Climate Crisis
What We’re Reading and Listening to
The GameStop Reckoning Was a Long Time Coming – New York Times