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Nancy Smith

More Young Adults (By Far) Would Rather Work on Wall Street Than Protest It

September 17, 2012 - 6:00pm

Generation Opportunity, a right-leaning group that polls youth voter sentiment, is out with a new survey that reveals twice as many young adults would rather work on Wall Street as protest it.

Seventy-six percent say the lack of job opportunities is shrinking the middle class, as young adult unemployment remains at 12.7 percent.

"I think this is pretty meaningful," University of Central Florida graduate Joe Chilcott told Sunshine State News Tuesday morning. "We need to work. We need jobs. Protests don't take us in the direction we want to go."

Chilcott, who says he is an active participant on two of Generation Opportunity's four Facebook pages, explains, "Most of our generation are serious and we're worried about the economy and we don't want to protest. We want to do something positive. Do we have a future? That's what we want to hear about."

Generation Opportunity, which engages and mobilizes Americans 18 to 29 years old on the important economic issues facing the nation, released new polling data Monday, the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Since its launch in June 2011, Generation Opportunity claims to have amassed a following of over 4 million fans on Facebook and is actively organizing Millennials across the country through grassroots tactics, voter registration, and voter turnout efforts.

For Generation Opportunity, the polling company, inc./WomanTrend conducted a nationwide online survey of 1,003 adults ages 18-29 between July 27 and July 31, 2012. Randomly selected online opt-in panel participants were sent an invitation to the survey via email, which included a secure link to the online questionnaire. Quotas were used to ensure the survey was representative of the larger 18-29-year-old nationwide population with regard to race, region, and gender. The data were not weighted.

Here are some of the results:

  • 47 percent of Millennials would rather be employed by Wall Street than protest Wall Street.
  • 26 percent would prefer protesting Wall Street over working on Wall Street.
  • 76 percent believe that the lack of job opportunities is shrinking the American middle class.
  • 38 percent believe that todays political leaders reflect the interests of young Americans.
  • 76 percent of Millennials plan to vote in the election for president this year.
  • 89 percent of young people ages 18-29 say the current state of the economy is impacting their day-to-day lives in the following ways:
  • 51 percent reduced their entertainment budget;
  • 43 percent reduced their grocery/food budget;
  • 43 percent cut back on gifts for friends and family;
  • 40 percent skipped a vacation;
  • 38 percent drove less;
  • 36 percent took active steps to reduce home energy costs;
  • 32 percent tried to find an additional job;
  • 27 percent sold personal items or property (cars, electronic appliances, or other possessions);
  • 26 percent changed their living situation (moved in with family, taken extra roommates, downgraded apartment or home);
  • 17 percent skipped a wedding, family reunion, or other significant social event;
  • 1 percent other;
  • 8 percent none of the above (accepted only this response);
  • 3 percent do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).
  • 84 percent of young people ages 18-29 had planned to, but now might delay or not make at all a major life change or move forward on a major purchase due to the current state of the economy. The following were the delays stated:
  • 38 percent were delaying buying their own place;
  • 32 percent delayed going back to school/getting more education or training;
  • 31 percent are opting to delay starting a family;
  • 27 percent delayed changing jobs/cities;
  • 26 percent delayed making payments on, or paying off student loans or other debt;
  • 25 percent delayed saving for retirement;
  • 23 percent delayed getting married;
  • 12 percent none of the above;
  • 4 percent do not know/cannot judge.

The overall sampling margin of error for the survey is 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval, meaning that the data obtained would not differ more than 3.1 percentage points in 95 out of 100 similar samples obtained.

Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity and former chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Labor, said,Young adults have been negatively impacted by the poor economy, high unemployment, and the lack of jobs both in their daily lives and in their long-term career plans and dreams. Amidst their frustrations and disappointments, the overwhelming majority of Millennials view the poor economy and lack of leadership by elected officials as the true sources of their problems not fellow Americans who work on Wall Street.

"Young Americans reject the cynicism and angry theatrics aimed at those who can create more full-time jobs; instead, they simply want positive solutions that grow the economy and create more opportunity for all Americans, Conway explained. Young adults believe elected officials fail to represent their concerns and best interests, are clearly fed up with the status quo, and plan on making their voices heard in November.

The ineffectiveness of Occupy Wall Street to capture the enthusiasm of or inspire activism among a wide number of young adults across America was documented by the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) at the end of last year. According to a December 2011 IOP study, just 2 percent of 18-29-year-olds had participated in Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, and only 11 percent knew someone personally who participated in the effort.

Generation Opportunity says it "operates on a strategy that combines advanced social media tactics with proven field tactics to reach Americans 18-29." It has four Facebook pages - "Being American by GO," "The Constitution by GO," "Gas Prices Are Too Damn High," and "Keep Texas Awesome" and claims a total fan base of more than 3.4 million.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at (850) 727-0859.

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