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The Social Workplace: Social Capital, Human Dignity, and Work in America, Volume III 

American Enterprise Institute

April 3, 2024

Executive Summary

In this report, we analyze 41 interviews of participants in an earlier quantitative survey of worker attitudes. These interviews were targeted to survey participants age 22–29 to better understand the priorities and concerns of younger workers. 

Our findings underscore the paramount importance of flexibility and purpose in work. Our analysis suggests the definition of flexibility varies widely among individual participants, but it most consistently means the freedom to balance work with family, education, and other interests. With regard to finding meaning in work, the pursuit of purpose through employment transcends educational boundaries. The report concludes that young workers seek not only economic rewards but also roles that are fulfilling and contribute to their communities, indicating a shift toward valuing both material and social aspects of work.

Economic anxiety also surfaced as a significant issue for younger workers. Such anxiety is more prevalent among those with less education and familial support and less so among those with greater education and familial support, particularly among those who are married or in committed partnerships. Saving and investment for the future, the capacity for which is tied to education levels, wages, and job security, is consistently linked to lower levels of economic anxiety. 

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