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State of Young America Includes Too Few Sick Days

November 2, 2011

By Ellen Bravo

A new report on “The State of Young America” documents what the Occupy Wall Street movement has made painfully clear: many young workers in our country find themselves in a precarious economic situation.

The report, published today by the policy center Demos and youth advocacy organization Young Invincibles, uncovered profound economic challenges facing young people age 18-34 – and how these challenges threaten the future of the middle class. “The State of Young America” also includes the results of an exclusive national poll of young people on their economic outlook, conducted by Lake Research Partners and Bellweather Research & Consulting.

Along with findings of inadequate earnings, rising debt, and missing health insurance, the report has alarming information about paid sick days.

Young adults get sick and need paid sick days to get better, but many don’t have them, particularly to use for a sick child.

Fewer than 3 in 10 young adult workers have paid sick days they can use to care for themselves and a family member. For women, that figure is fewer than 1 in 4. For Latinos, it’s only 1 in 6.

Not surprisingly, many young adult workers who cannot earn paid sick time go to work sick.
The main reason, they say, is they can’t afford to lose pay.

This is bad for them and their families, bad for their careers, bad for public health, and bad for business.

Particularly for women, who are more likely to have responsibility for young children, lack of paid sick days is a key barrier to staying employed and being able to advance.

That’s why we’re seeing a lot of young workers involved in our campaigns for paid sick days. The report found that these workers are civic minded and still believe in the American dream. Paid sick days would represent meaningful progress toward that dream.



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