- Gen Z is caught between trying to earn enough to meet rising prices and working for a better climate.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that while many Gen Zers want public service jobs, they can’t afford them.
- It’s yet another example of Gen Z being trapped in crises they didn’t create.
Gen Z is caught between two crises not of their making — a typical story for those born between 1997 and 2012 — and they can’t decide which is more urgent.
A new article from the Wall Street Journal delves into one of the debates Gen Z job seekers face: whether they’re looking for a job that pays well or aligns with their social values. As inflation rises, it has become murkier.
Personal values have long been a priority for Gen Z as they enter the workforce in droves. Nearly half of Gen Zers surveyed in a global Workmonitor study by Randstad of 35,000 workers said they would not accept a position at a company that did not align with social and environmental views. But that’s met with skyrocketing prices for just about everything.
Indeed, a Deloitte survey of 14,808 Gen Zers and 8,412 Millennials from November 2021 to December 2022 found that 37% of Gen Zers rejected a job or assignment “because of their personal ethics.” As the Wall Street Journal notes, that’s down from a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the cost of living tops Gen Z’s list of top concerns, with 29% saying they’re concerned about it. Climate change comes in second place, with 24% concerned. This means, as the Wall Street Journal notes, that the cost of living has overtaken the climate crisis as one of Gen Z’s biggest concerns.
Notably, the Deloitte survey only polled Gen Zers from November 2021 to January 2022, meaning Gen Zers were worried about the cost of living before inflation hit a 41-year high in march.
“I would imagine the proportions would be higher right now of Gen Z and Millennials feeling this financial stress,” Deloitte economist Patricia Buckley told Insider.
For some of the Gen Zers that The Wall Street Journal’s Callum Borchers interviewed, government or nonprofit jobs simply don’t pay enough to sustain themselves.
Recent law school graduate Benjamin Nitzani, for example, told the Journal that he had more than $100,000 in student loan debt; he is the first in his family to go to university. Currently, student loan repayments loom as the Biden administration plans to write off just $10,000 in debt.
He opted for the highest paying companies in his job search.
On the other side is Alisa White, who is graduating from law school next year. According to the Journal, White co-founded Law Students for Climate Accountability, where members pledge not to work at companies representing fossil fuel interests.
White will stick to the commitment, she told the Journal, and prepare to earn a “modest” income.
“I would love to have kids or a house at some point, and I’m like, ‘Oh, no,'” White told the Journal. “It weighs on me.”
Essentially, Gen Z must decide which crisis to tackle first: the price spike or the climate crisis that threatens their future.