Money or purpose, inflation or climate

  • Gen Z is caught between trying to earn enough to pay for rising prices and working on a better climate.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that while many Gen Zers want government jobs, they can’t afford them.
  • It’s another example of Gen Z caught in crises that they didn’t create.

Generation Z is stuck between two crises that they didn’t create themselves – a typical story for those born between 1997 and 2012 – and they can’t decide which is more pressing.

A new Wall Street Journal article addresses one of the debates facing Gen Z job seekers: whether they’re looking for a role that pays well or that aligns with their social values. Things get darker as inflation rises.

Personal values ​​have long been a priority for Gen Z as they enter the workforce en masse. Nearly half of the Gen Zers surveyed in Randstad’s global Workmonitor study of 35,000 workers said they would not accept a role at a company that doesn’t align with social and environmental beliefs. But that comes with rising prices for almost everything.

In fact, a Deloitte survey of 14,808 Gen Zers and 8,412 Millennials from November 2021 to December 2022 found that 37% of Gen Zers turned down a job or engagement “due to their personal ethics.” As the Wall Street Journal notes, this is a year-over-year decrease.

Meanwhile, the cost of living tops Gen Z’s list of top concerns, with 29% saying it worries them. Climate change comes second at 24%. That means, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the cost of living is ahead of the climate crisis as one of Gen Z’s biggest concerns.

Notably, the Deloitte survey only surveyed Gen Zers from November 2021 to January 2022, meaning Gen Zers were worried about the cost of living before inflation hit a 41-year high in March.

“I would imagine that the proportions of Gen Zers and Millennials feeling this financial stress are stronger right now,” Patricia Buckley, economist at Deloitte, told Insider.

For some of the Gen Zers the Wall Street Journal’s Callum Borchers interviewed, government jobs or nonprofits just don’t pay enough to make a living.

For example, recent law school graduate Benjamin Nitzani told the Journal that he had over $100,000 in student loan debt; He is the first in his family to go to college. Right now, student loan repayments are looming as the Biden administration seeks to forgive just $10,000 in debt.

When looking for a job, he looked for the highest-paying companies.

On the other end is Alisa White, who is graduating from law school next year. According to the Journal, White co-founded Law Students for Climate Accountability, where members pledge not to work for companies representing fossil fuel interests.

White will live up to the promise, she told the Journal, and is preparing to earn a “modest” income.

“I would like to find out if I would eventually have kids or a house, and I’m like, ‘Oh, no,'” White told the Journal. “Its a heavy burdan.”

Essentially, Gen Z must decide which crisis to tackle first: skyrocketing prices or the climate crisis looming over their future.

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