$200K in debt to deliver pizza

The Class of 2010 borrowed lots of money to attend expensive universities and graduate with skills the labor market doesn’t want, writes Joe Queenan in the Wall Street Journal.

Over the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Millennials will graduate from institutions of higher learning. They will celebrate for several days, perhaps several weeks. Then they will enter a labor force that neither wants nor needs them. They will enter an economy where roughly 17% of people aged 20 through 24 do not have a job, and where two million college graduates are unemployed. They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas.

It will take five years to get back to the pre-recession level of jobs, economist say. This generation may never catch up with their parents’ generation.

There are three formidable obstacles confronting college graduates today. One, the economy, though improving at a glacial pace, is still a wreck. There are no jobs, and the jobs that do exist aren’t the kinds anyone in his right mind would have spent $100,000 to $200,000 to land. Two, nothing in most middle-class kids’ lives has prepared them emotionally for the world they are about to enter. Three, the legacy costs that society has imposed on young people will be a millstone around their necks for decades. Who’s going to pay for the health care bill? Gen Y. Who’s going to pay off the federal deficit? Gen Y. Who’s going to fund all those cops’ and teachers’ and firemen’s pensions? Gen Y. Who’s going to support Baby Boomers as they suck the Social Security System dry while wheezing around Tuscany? Gen Y.

Baby boomers with college degrees could move up the job ladder quickly, Queenan writes.

Today, even the idiots have college degrees. And the idiots have seniority.

Queenan’s son was graduated from college in 2009. After working as a bouncer, furniture mover and focus group participant, he’s planning to start law school in the fall.

Is college the key to success for all students?  Not necessarily.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Read the article. It really doesn’t say much. A lot of it is anecdotal and whiny. First of all, Queenan’s biggest points are that his friend’s son spent a lot of money going to an Ivy League school to get a degree in music and arts and now can not find a job. An investigation into how the kids who got business and engineering degrees (and other degrees that involved learning transferable and relevant skills and information) are doing in this labor market. Anybody who cared for the kid should have told him not to waste his time on a music degree. Secondly, Queenan spends a lot of time explaining that the recent graduates might not get along with their coworkers in offices because they listen to different music or have different tastes than them. This has nothing to do with the labor market and is petty and disrespectful to the recent grads. The implication is that they will not be able to function in a work environment with people different than them. Nonsense. Pretty lousy article all the way around.

  2. Should say “An investigation into how the kids who got business and engineering degrees (and other degrees that involved learning transferable and relevant skills and information) are doing in this labor market would be more telling of the situation today.”

  3. I met somebody whose sole income was from focus group participation.

    Kind of creepy.

  4. Independent George says:

    After working as a bouncer, furniture mover and focus group participant, he’s planning to start law school in the fall.

    Doubling down on twelve.

  5. SuperSub says:

    Independent –
    The problem is that he is largely gambling with others’ money. With federal-backed student loans, one can perpetually remain a student on the public dime.

  6. >Doubling down on twelve.

    Yep. Unless he’s going to graduate high in his class from an above-average law school, he’s not going to be facing much better odds.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    This is the same mentality exhibited by the folks who bought houses they could not afford with subprime mortgages. Geez..unless you go into a professional program, your degree does not translate into a job. I applaud interests in Art, Music, etc, but that has always meant that you needed vocational skills in addition. And unless they are shooting for Harvard Medical, why shouldn’t undergraduates work for their expenses? My husband and I put ourselves through college. It took longer, but we graduated with zero debt, which was good since the economy was rather poor when we graduated.

  8. Quote from this ridiculous article:
    “They will do this right after they have finished deleting the summer-year-abroad photo where they’re shaking hands with Hugo Chavez.”

    Then again, it is the Wall Street Journal.