Jobless graduates

Here’s grim news for Labor Day: Only 64% of 2011 and 2012 graduates have a job of any kind and most working grads aren’t in jobs that require a degree, according to a survey by the Wall Street Journal‘s Market Watch.

College students are competing for jobs with older workers who haven’t been able to move up or afford to retire.

Another survey out of Rutgers found that about half of college graduates are finding themselves working in a job that doesn’t require any of the skills they obtained in the course of their studies. Only 1/5th actually managed to get that fit their major in a relevant way. Most find themselves in a paid position that wouldn’t have required a four-year degree to obtain, causing some survey takers to think that the the time and money invested in the higher education might have been a waste.

Via Education News.

College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life,” Paul Ryan said in accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination.

Already a GOP PAC has an ad up:


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  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    There has never been a time when every college graduate could find a job that used the knowledge and skills from that person’s major. Not even close.

    For several decades, there have not even been enough jobs that require a college graduate’s combination of “intelligence, conscientiousness, and conformity”–let alone any specific knowledge.

    For a good while now, going to college has been like buying a lottery ticket. You may not win, but if you don’t play, it’s legally and socially acceptable to deny you a job with much upside.

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    I’ll ignore the political ad in the post, and just comment about 2012 graduates not getting jobs.

    Right now we’re in a period of high unemployment. At some point, we all hope, unemployment will go down. There will be more jobs. So, ten years from now, will those 2012 graduates be better off for having gotten a college degree? New graduates are having trouble finding jobs now, but then everyone else who is unemployed is also having trouble finding jobs.

    • One problem is that employers may not be as willing (or willing at all) to hire people who’ve been working dead-end jobs or sitting around unemployed for a year or more; they would probably rather hire those whose education is fresh and whose attitude is more upbeat than those who’ve been beaten down by experience.

      • Engineer-Poet is exactly right. I know many people personally in that situation. It becomes a ‘catch 22’; how can you get a job if they won’t hire you because you haven’t had a job??

      • Another variation on this theme I’ve seen personally: They won’t hire you because you have a bad credit rating, you haven’t been paying your bills. Well, if they had a job they could pay their bills! These ‘catch 22’s’ are ruining people’s lives for unfair reasons, and creating a ‘have and have not’ society.

  3. I followed the link on your absurd claim that “Only 64% of 2011 and 2012 graduates have a job of any kind” and found that “Unemployment hovered at… 12.7%… for those ages 18 to 29”, but nothing even close to what you allege. As you know, the unemployment rate is significantly lower than that for college graduates in the same age cohort.

    When we look for, say, news coverage as opposed to GOP propaganda, we find headlines like this: “Job Prospects For New Grads Best Since Recession” ( ). “According to the Associated Press, the unemployment rate for college grads aged 24 or younger has been dropping: From January through April, it averaged 7.2 percent.”

    • The ‘official’ unemployment numbers themselves are propoganda…

      The ‘U-6’ (its government designation) is the TRUE unemployment rate, the common sense calculation that everyone thinks the government’s doing when it releases its ‘official’ unemployment rate. If you believe it’s only 8%, then you’re being played, and on top of that don’t you notice that the real life observations in your own community (well, most communities in America) don’t line up with what the ‘official’ numbers imply?

    • If you believe the ‘official’ unemployment number that the press recieves, then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn…

      • If you want to make a case for using a different figure to measure unemployment, provide the data and make the case. Your disagreement with the official numbers does not give you (or Joanne) leave to make stuff up.

        Today, Joanne quoted with approval a source that states “Recent grad employment rate: 10.5%”. Nowhere near the 1/3 of “2011 and 2012 graduates” she implied above.

        {Insert obligatory Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote here.}

  4. Even in boom years, a significant proportion of college grads go straight on to attend graduate school. I would be curious to see what the comparable employment percentage was for the classes of 2005 and 2005 in September 2006. I presume it would be higher than 64%, but the question is how much higher? 75%? 80%? More?

  5. IMO,

    I’d like to see that universities and colleges do not admit anyone to graduate school (masters, Ph.D) without at least 3-4 years of actual work experience in the field of major. In many cases, a master’s degree will not make someone more employable (depending on field of study), and will just saddle the student with more debt they’ll in most cases never be able to pay off.

    As a side note, the US National Debt is set to top 16 trillion dollars either today or tomorrow with unfunded liabilities in excess of 120 trillion dollars (projected).


    • That would create another ‘catch 22’ situation…

    • Accounting has now moved to master’s level preparation for entry into the big-3 firms- 1 yr – at least at the top schools. The top B-Schools have required at least 3 years of work experience for over a decade – the average at my sons’ top-5 schools was about 5 years. It’s the lower-tier schools that will take kids in directly from undergrad – at least, some of them. Practice disciplines, like nursing, also have a long history of requiring several years of work experience for entry into a master’s program (and certainly for doctoral) – again, at least at top-ranked programs,

  6. Thanks, Baby Boomers!

    Generation X, Generation Y, and especially the Millineals might as well all change their names to ‘Generation Screwed’!

  7. There’s a pretty good book about this phenomenon called “Human Capitalism: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter–and More Unequal” by Brink Lindsey. He basically makes the argument (using quite a lot of statistics) that jobs are moving upscale: more and more jobs require higher levels of reason and abstraction. All of the features of the 21st century (computers, communications, etc) make it possible for smarter people to get even more done, but they also automate most of the tedious jobs out of existence (when was the last time you saw someone employed as a typist?).

    Those jobs aren’t coming back, no matter who is elected president.

    Book is here:

    It’s cheap and short and to the point.