Not getting callbacks? You aren’t alone. Un(der)employment for Millennials of Color


Source: Latino Millennials at Work.

It’s been months since I’ve found stable employment after graduating from college last year. And now I have this interview that relates to my major and coincides with my beliefs, and I have background experience in this work. If anything, they wrote this job description about my life. Excitedly, I prepare an argumentative strategy and follow-up questions in anticipation of the interview.

After I finish my interview with the hiring manager, I rave to my parents and friends about how well I did. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think I have this. Happily, I write a “Thank You” note to top off the celebration.

But the offer never comes. I wait for a response, even considering giving an annoying call Business Insider doesn’t want you to do. Then finally, after a couple of weeks, I get a “Thank You” back message and my heart sinks.

I open the rejection email and feel confused.

Maybe I legitimately didn’t qualify for this position, and maybe there was a better candidate; that’s perfectly reasonable. But for too long, finding work has been extremely difficult. 

And that’s indicative of millennials of color and employment – or lack thereof. According to studies from the National Council of La Raza and the Black Youth Project, if chronic unemployment is indicative of the millennial generation – ages 18 to 34, perpetual dismissal is the reality for millennials of color. 

Collectively representing close to half the millennial population, not only must Asian, Black, and Latinx youth deal with being a part of a generation that has the highest educational attainment and student loans, but we also face getting dismissed at certain positions on the basis of our names or how we look.

For Latinx and Black men in their twenties, we have the most experience compared to our peers, but this makes no difference in the likelihood that we will find work, contrary to our peers. That’s from NCLR’s study. And even when Latinx men do get jobs, our work experience does not translate to advancement within an organization, let alone full-time work as opposed to part-time jobs. We are also overrepresented in service, agriculture, and assistant positions occupations, and lack representation in white collar jobs.

For Black millennials, employment alone is even worse. The Black Youth Project finds that – while the total millennial population faced an unemployment rate of 9.6% compared to 5.3% of the general population in 2015 – Black millennials were unemployed at far worse than national averages. In the same year, unemployment for Black youth age 20 to 24 was 16.6%, compared to 10.3% for Latinos and 8.5% for whites in the same demographic.

And these systemic issues of employment highlight discriminatory workplaces, as data from both the NCLR and Black Youth Project projects show. We consistently face work environments hostile to our identities. Frankly, many of these institutions haven’t been that responsive to our entry.


Source: The Black Youth Project.

Millennials of color have to walk this tightrope between two worlds – of being a person of color and operating in traditionally white spaces. We must balance our identities on both sides, all while trying to impress a white hiring manager that prioritizes white work. It’s a circus act that leaves people dismayed and feeling unappreciated.

Discriminatory hiring, unemployment and underemployment, and workplace discrimination for millennials of color will continue to be an issue. So while there is no answer to these systemic problems, the NCLR and Black Youth Project studies certainly provided insight on employment and being a millennial of color, like me.

You definitely aren’t alone.


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