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Most U.S. Teens Believe There is a Lack of Equal Economic Opportunity Based on Race and Gender

Carmen Reinicke with CNBC reports on a Junior Achievement survey about diversity, equity, and inclusion

Teens agree – the U.S. has a problem with equal economic opportunity.

More than 60% of teenagers said they believe people in the U.S. are paid less based on race, ethnicity and gender, according to the Junior Achievement Teens and Economic Opportunity Survey released Monday. The survey was conducted by Engine Insights online between Nov. 17 and 22 and asked 1,004 teens ages 13 to 17 about diversity, equity and inclusion.

In addition, 69% of teens surveyed believe people have a harder time getting financial support to start a business due to race, ethnicity and gender, and 73% believe that racism is embedded into societal institutions such as laws, rules and procedures.

The results come amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated economic issues in the U.S. Covid-19 has disproportionately hit those least able to bear its burdens – especially low-wage workers, people of color and women. These impacts have not been lost on teenagers.

“The disparities are starting to show up more so than ever before in the lives of teenagers right now because of Covid and the impact it’s having on people,” said Yanely Espinal, director of education outreach at Next Gen Personal Finance.

The solutions teens see - and who they think is responsible

In some ways, the pandemic has been a silver lining in bringing awareness to economic issues, according to certified financial planner Rianka Dorsainvil, co-founder and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners.

“It has forced us to stop living in our bubble and see what’s happening in other people’s communities and in our own communities,” she said.

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