What Do Young American Women Want in this Economy?

By Generation Opportunity, Special for US Daily Review.

Generation Opportunity’s grassroots field team was in action in Maryland recently, participating in the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. The three-day event, dubbed “Leadership for Today and Tomorrow,” brought together over 400 young women leaders for lectures and workshops on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park.

“As a young woman, I can tell you first-hand that we are confident in our abilities and know we are qualified to compete and succeed in whatever endeavor we choose. However, today we face an economy with fewer and fewer opportunities – there is an overall scarcity of jobs that is making it increasingly difficult to succeed and plan for our futures,” said Evan Flores, Director of Field Operations for Generation Opportunity. “Young women are experiencing high unemployment – a shocking 12.1% for Americans 18-29 years old – while Washington just talks about it. We know that America can do better. The failed policies of the last three years, such as greater regulatory intervention and higher taxes, are unfair and deny us opportunities – they are barriers to individual initiative, investment, and job creation.”

Event attendees indicated that record unemployment and high gas prices were among their top concerns. Economic opportunity and jobs are looking even bleaker on the heels of May’s lackluster numbers from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the overall unemployment rate climbed to 8.2%, as the economy added just 69,000 new jobs. The numbers are worse for Millennials, those aged 18 to 29 years old:

  • The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for May 2012 is 12.1 percent (non-seasonally adjusted).
  • The declining labor participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by BLS 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 overall 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.9 percent (NSA).

The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders is an annual event that brings young women from colleges across the country together with established women leaders in fields such as business, non-profit, journalism, government, and education. At this year’s conference, Generation Opportunity field organizers engaged with student leaders from Bennett College, University of Cincinnati, Denison University, University of Houston, Loyola University in New Orleans, University of Michigan, Moravian College, New Mexico State University, University of Northern Iowa, Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, Washington University in St Louis, Westshore Community College, Wright State University, and many other institutions.

Generation Opportunity has co-sponsored and participated in numerous events with professional organizations and other non-profits across the country that work with young adults and young adult women. Last fall, grassroots organizers participated in the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston. Attendees represented states throughout greater New England as well as dozens of other states across the country including Arizona, North Carolina, Indiana, and Colorado. At last October’s American Student Government Association Conference, Generation Opportunity staff trained student leaders from dozens of community colleges and four-year universities, including Texas A&M University, Regis College, University of Wisconsin, Mississippi University for Women, Los Angeles City College, High Point University, Indiana University, and University of South Florida.

In addition, Generation Opportunity has been actively engaging young Americans in states across the country, including California, New Hampshire, Nevada, Michigan, and Virginia.

Generation Opportunity commissioned a poll with the polling company, inc./WomanTrend (April 16 – 22, 2011, +/- 4% margin of error) and highlights of results for young adult women ages 18-29 appears below.

Young Adult Women – Delaying Professional Plans and Personal Dreams – The Human Cost of the Poor Economy:

  • 79% of young adult women (18-29) either have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to current economic factors:
    • 46% delay buying a home;
    • 30% delay saving for retirement;
    • 30% delay paying off student loans or other debt;
    • 26% delay going back to school/getting more education or training;
    • 21% delay changing jobs/cities;
    • 27% delay starting a family;
    • 20% delay getting married.

Young Adult Women – Government Spending and the Economy:

  • 71% of young adult women would favor a decrease in federal spending from its current level over raising taxes paid by individuals in order to balance the federal budget. Only 23% favor increasing taxes paid by individuals as a means of balancing the federal budget. Young adult women are 3 times more inclined to cut federal spending than increase taxes on individuals.
  • 54% of young adult women agree the economy grows best when individuals are allowed to create businesses without government interference, while 33% disagree.

Young Adult Women – Looking Ahead to Election Day:       

  • 60% of young adult women believe the wrong leadership is in Washington, while 38% believe Washington has the right leadership. Within those totals (60% wrong leadership versus 38% right leadership), there is a 22‐point-intensity gap between women who strongly agree Washington has the wrong leadership (29%) compared with those who strongly agree (7%) Washington has the right leadership.
  • 67% of young adult women do not believe that today’s political leaders reflect their interests.
  • 64% of young adult women will chiefly consider a candidate’s position on issues and voting record when voting for president in 2012, another 28% of young adult women will weigh substantive issues and personal characteristics equally in making their vote choice, while just 3% prefer to base their support on “likeability” or the candidate’s personal traits.
  • 55% of young adult women agree that in 2012, they will learn more about the policy positions of presidential candidates than they did in 2008, while 32% disagree.

Young Adult Women – American National Security and Future Global Leadership:

  • 65% of young adult women list energy dependency as the top national security issue followed by the national debt (62%) and indebtedness to foreign powers (48%). Terrorism was rated the fourth top national security issue (35%).
  • 57% of young adult women are not confident that America will be the global leader in 10 years, while 39% are confident. Among those who are not confident, there is a substantial intensity gap (19‐points) between young adult women who are “not at all confident” (25%) America will be the global leader in ten years compared with those who are “very confident” (6%) it will be.


Generation Opportunity is a non-profit, non-partisan 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,” and “Keep Texas Awesome” on Facebook – have amassed a total fan base of more than 3.4 million. All four pages post links to relevant articles and reports from sources ranging from the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO), to The New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Brookings Institution, The Wall Street JournalThe Huffington Post, and The Heritage Foundation.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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