Scotland

Why is Generation Y earning less than its predecessors?

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Media captionThe financial challenges for Generation Y

All this week we're looking at the challenges facing Generation Y (born 1980 - 2000) in Scotland. Today we're focussing on the world of work.

Experts think the oldest members of Generation Y are earning about £40 less every week than those born 10 years earlier.

But why?

All ages were hit by the financial crisis, which began around a decade ago.

But the Intergeneration Commission, run by the respected Resolution Foundation think tank, says millennials are feeling the brunt more than most.

"What we've come to expect as a society over the course of the 20th Century is that each generation earns more than the one before them at the same age and that's what a growing economy should deliver", says Laura Gardiner, senior research and policy analyst.

"But there are signs that's broken down. They are earning less than those 10 or 15 years before them were at the same age.

"All generations were hit hard by the pay squeeze. But millennials were definitely hit the hardest."

There were signs the pay of younger people was slowing down before the crash, she says, but it's got worse.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The financial crash of 2008 had an impact on young people's pay

There are some key factors identified by the commission.

An increase in part-time work is one. The commission reckons that, across the UK, those in their mid-20s are 25% more likely to work part-time than Generation X at the same age.

Another is that more younger people are doing lower-paid jobs.

And then there's precarious employment, like short-term contracts and zero-hours contracts.

That's an issue the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has been looking into. The congress has a campaign, Less Than Zero, aiming to help those on them.

But the STUC found it's not just that issue being raised.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption More young people are employed on short-term and zero-hours contracts

The STUC's deputy general secretary David Moxham said: "We were frankly surprised to see the number of people aged 25 and over who were contacting the campaign.

"They were contacting the campaign with enormous concerns; about zero-hours contracts, security of work, pay levels, bullying...a whole gamut of problems we knew were out there, but we didn't know how prevalent they were."

Unemployment rates in Scotland are falling, including for young people.

The Scottish government points out the youth unemployment rate is considerably lower than it was at the time of the financial crash.

Jamie Hepburn MSP is the Scottish minister for employability and training.

Highlighting stats for people aged 16-24, he says: "At the peak of the recession, we were at somewhere around 25% of that cohort not in work - now we are routinely seeing that figure is somewhere between 8% and 9%.

"That's the lowest level in the UK...it's amongst the lowest levels in the European Union."

But across the UK, there is evidence the jobs market is proving tough for many in Generation Y.

BBC Scotland is discussing the issues facing Generation Y all of this week, and will be hosting a live Facebook debate featuring young people, government ministers and experts on Friday. Send in your questions on social media using #BBCGenY or to newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk.

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