- Gen Z is trapped between trying to earn enough for rising prices and working towards a better climate.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that while many Gen Zers want to have public service jobs, they can’t afford it.
- It’s yet another example of Gen Z being trapped in crises they didn’t create.
Gen Z is stuck in between two crises not of their own making — a typical tale for those born between 1997 and 2012 — and they can’t decide which one is more pressing.
A new Wall Street Journal article delves into one of the debates that Gen Z jobseekers are coming up against: Whether they look for a role that pays well, or aligns with their social values. As inflation rises, it’s become murkier.
Personal values have long been a priority for Gen Z as they enter the workforce en masse. Nearly half of Gen Zers surveyed in a Workmonitor global study by Randstad of 35,000 workers said that they wouldn’t accept a role at a company that doesn’t align with social and environmental views. But that’s coming up against spiking 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 have rejected a job or assignment “based on their personal ethics.” As the Wall Street Journal notes, that’s a dip from the year before.
In the meantime, cost of living tops the list of Gen Z’s mains concerns, with 29% saying they’re concerned about it. Climate change comes in second, with 24% concerned. That means, as the Wall Street Journal notes, cost of living has pulled ahead of the climate crisis as one of Gen Z’s biggest worries.
Notably, the Deloitte survey only polled Gen Zers from November 2021 to January 2022, meaning that Gen Zers were worried about cost of living before inflation hit a 41-year high in March.
“I would have to imagine that the proportions would be more stark right now of Gen Zers and millennials that are feeling this financial stress,” Patricia Buckley, an economist at Deloitte, told Insider.
For some of the Gen Zers that the Wall Street Journal’s Callum Borchers interviewed, public service or nonprofit jobs just don’t pay enough for them to subsist.
Recent law school grad Benjamin Nitzani, for instance, told the Journal that he has over $100,000 in student-loan debt; he’s the first in his family to go to college. Right now, student loan repayments are looming as the Biden administration looks towards cancelling just $10,000 in debt.
He went for the highest-paying firms in his job hunt.
On the other end is Alisa White, who graduates from law school next year. According to the Journal, White co-founded Law Students for Climate Accountability, where members pledge that they won’t work at firms representing fossil fuel interests.
White will stick with the pledge, she told the Journal, and is preparing to make a “modest” income.
“I would love to figure out having kids or a house at some point, and I’m like, ‘Oh, no,'” White told the Journal. “It weighs on my mind.”
In essence, Gen Z has to decide which crisis to tackle the first: Skyrocketing prices, or the climate crisis that looms over their future.