Building Wealth for Gen Z

January 29, 2021

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.

Learn how in Building Wealth for Generation Z: How Policy Can Help New Labor Market Entrants.

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.



“Today is climate day in the White House, which means today is jobs day at the White House,” President Biden said while unveiling a suite of climate-focused executive actions on Wednesday. 

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.


What We’re Reading and Listening to

The GameStop Reckoning Was a Long Time ComingNew York Times

Freedom from Markets [podcast feat. Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal]The Weeds

America Has Forgotten How to Be Free [feat. Konczal]The Week

The Mirage of the Black Middle Class [feat. Roosevelt’s William Darity Jr.] – Vox

Protecting the ACA Is Only a Starting Point for Women’s Health Care [by Roosevelt’s Naomi Zewde]Ms.

America’s Next Great Economic Experiment: What if We Run It Hot? [feat. Roosevelt’s Mark Paul]New York Times

Here’s What Happens When Every Government Vehicle Is Electric [feat. Roosevelt’s Todd Tucker]New Republic