Jobs Crisis Among Recent College Graduates

Education Trends

The ongoing unemployment crisis in this country has plagued Americans of all backgrounds and vocations looking to find a decently paying job in their field. But one demographic that has been hit particularly hard by unemployment is one that you might not expect. The Atlantic magazine reports that unemployment has been unusually rampant among recent college graduates. Specifically, they cite a report from the Associated Press that nearly 53% of recent college grads are either underemployed or out of a job altogether. Those are sobering statistics for current college students looking to graduate in the immediate future.



When the Associated Press says that recent college students are underemployed, they mean that college students are taking jobs that they’re either overqualified for or those that don’t utilize the full range of their skills. A political science major may be working at a coffee shop, or advertising major may have chosen a job in retail over unemployment. But some graduates can’t or won’t find employment in lower skilled jobs—the Associated Press reports that nearly 750,000 graduates have no job prospects. In other words, a lot of young people are making hard choices about the immediate future of their careers.

More Professionals with Degrees and Fewer Willing Employers

There are more people with bachelor’s degrees in the US now than ever before. While millions of Americans may be “qualified” for certain jobs through their formal education, employers can hardly keep up with the huge demand for work. The hard truth is that there aren’t enough jobs to go around for everyone, and it’s only now in conjunction with the current recession that college grads understand this shortage. Companies that have tightened their belts to weather the economic downturn, and that may have involved turning away qualified college grads in order to maintain their stability.

Such hesitance on the part of many employers might have been a smart business move, but it hardly did any favors to the millions of graduated college students who hoped to apply their newly acquired skills in a professional environment. But no one is blaming businesses for the slow hiring trends, as they shouldn’t, because the national and global financial markets—not to mention the business sector in general and the economy specifically—has been nothing but uncertain in the past few years.

Lower Wages and Higher Tuition

Perhaps the most unsettling trend amidst these numbers is the disparity between wage growth and college tuition prices. The Center for American Progress reports that while a student’s tuition continues to increase at an average of 8.3% a year, the average wages for young professionals continues to decline at a steady rate. The result is a veritable nightmare for college grads trying to find their footing in those critical first few years of their professional life.  See: Education Inflation.

Think about it: if a student takes out a few loans in order to pay for their education, they’ll not only be paying more for it than did students before them, but they’ll have to do so on wages lower than those expected in previous years. How can college students hope to find success in their careers if the cost of education continues to rise and yet the rewards for that education are constantly diminishing?

While the issue of rising student tuition has been somewhat of a political bartering chip recently, it’s clear that the cost of higher education is becoming more unrealistic, particularly in the face of such poor employment figures for recent college grads. The plight of these college grads calls into question not only the viability of the current higher education system, but of the companies and industries that hope to hire employees graduated from those systems.

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Author Bio:

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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