Hayley Nivelle always dreamed of moving to the east coast from her hometown of Kansas City to become a lawyer. After she attended law school at University of Pennsylvania, the dream came true. Nivelle joined one of New York City’s top firms, where she finally began making the money to pay back her student loans. Kids were far from her mind.
“I couldn’t think about having kids while sleeping under my desk,” Nivelle said. “I was satisfied at the time in my good, well-paying job and kids were not on my mind. I was working really hard and traveling when I could and enjoying my 20s.”
After five years, that changed. She got married in 2012 and was ready for a different work environment. Nivelle transitioned to an in-house position serving as a company’s lawyer and had the first of her two children. She was 33.
Nivelle’s experience reflects a long-term trend of college-educated millennial women delaying having children in order to succeed professionally –– and it’s helping them outpace men in the job market. Millennials entered the workforce just as the economy was entering the worst recession since the Great Depression, when their employment rate dropped about 8 percent. Since the economy began its recovery, both millennial men and women have seen a steady uptick in their employment –– but while men are still digging themselves out of the hole, women have surpassed their pre-recession rate.