For Americans aged 16 to 24 who aren’t enrolled in school, the employment picture is grim. Only 36 percent are working full time, down 10 percentage points from 2007. Longer term, the overall labor-force participation rate for that age group has dropped 20 percentage points for men and 14 points for women since 1989.
…If we consider four-year college graduates only, average starting salaries, inflation-adjusted, were higher in 2000 than they are today
1. We now have many college graduates who could not actually graduate in a rigorous major.
2. The young people I know who are not working full time have all formerly had full-time jobs, so that they are showing a lifestyle preference. I am admittedly looking at a small sample, not necessarily representative.
3. Young people who are not interested in having children do not feel compelled to work full time. Again, my evidence is anecdotal, but it seems to me that compared to when I was their age, there are a lot more young people these days who do not seem at all interested in having children. Admittedly, there could be causality running from weak job prospects to less interest in having children.
Overall, I see this as part of the Vicky-Thete polarization trend. If you do not have Vicky values, there may not be a compelling reason to work full time.