Moreno Valley College Herald

The Student News Site of Moreno Valley College

Moreno Valley College Herald

Moreno Valley College Herald

Young workers in California struggle to balance minimum-wage jobs and postsecondary education

Ruben Cabral
Moreno Valley College Campus, where many students attend hoping to obtain a degree in a successful career field

In California, there are currently 2.11 million young workers between the ages of 16-24, making up 12% of the working class and 45% of all young people in the state’s economy. However, based on these statistics that were gathered in a study performed by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Labor Center, over half of these young workers are also attending school while employed. 

Researchers are beginning to worry over California’s future economic status. The concern not only comes from the number of young people working in minimum-wage jobs, or the fact that over half of the number of young people working are also attending postsecondary educational institutions. Rather, the struggle of maintaining both is what’s causing researchers to worry that this new generation of students workers might be stuck in a  financial crisis and educational dilemma.  

Many of the young workers in our state are employed in minimum-wage industries such as restaurants and retail, working as waiters, cooks, sales associates and other various positions, more often than not as part-time employees. These positions typically pay an average of $18 an hour, which is not that bad. However, given the rising cost of living in California, as well as the financial obligations that come with attending colleges and universities, the wages simply do not cover living expenses and the cost of attending school.  

“Like many of [the] students at our college, I had to work to make ends meet,” said José Oceguera, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Moreno Valley College. “Enrolling in a university in San Francisco meant taking on various jobs—both at cafes and on campus—to cover essentials like food, books, and rent.” 

Considering these issues, younger people are being forced to choose between attending school to obtain a degree, which is necessary to obtain a higher-wage job in a lasting career or choosing to continue to work in a minimum-wage position that has little-to-no room for advancement. In addition, along the way students hope to obtain skills that can be applied to positions later that can help them move on to higher-paying jobs.  

Ariana Garcia, a third year student at Moreno Valley College currently majoring in Early Childhood Development, who also has a part-time job, expressed exactly how she feels about working through both work and school.

“I limited myself to a part-time job because I told myself that ultimately school is my number one priority,” Garcia said. “I feel choosing work over school isn’t ideal for me because whatever part time job I’m at now isn’t worth sacrificing my future career.” 

As of now, one in three jobs in California require some form of college education, but as education costs and student debt have risen wages have not kept up. Researchers stress the necessity for more career programs in high school and college that offer young people both school credits and job training to help them adjust to life after high school while also gaining valuable work experience. For now, young workers in California still face the dilemma of choosing between a minimum-wage job, postsecondary education, or trying to find a balance between both.  

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
Donate to Moreno Valley College Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of Moreno Valley College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Moreno Valley College Herald

Comments (0)

All Moreno Valley College Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *