Sad Grads: One in Two Are Jobless or Underemployed
Posted by Girls Guide To on April 26, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Sorry ladies, but if you’re a part of the college class of 2012, you’re in for a rude welcome to the working world.
A weak job market already has left half of young college grads either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge. We’re scraping by in lower-wage jobs –waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and wondering when our degrees will pay off (and how we can pay off those mounting student loans).
While there's strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities are struggling. And get this: Average wages for those with bachelor's degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.
Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor's degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade. Ouch. It seems now more than ever, the choices that we make earlier in life – level of schooling, academic field and training, where to attend college, how to pay for it – are having long-lasting financial impact.
We’ve always been told you can make more money on average if you go to college, but it's not true for everybody. If you're not sure what you're going to be doing, it might be better to take some job (that is, if you can get one), and get a sense first of what you want from college.
About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest in at least 11 years. And out of those, about half were underemployed.
In the last year, we were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). We were working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk more than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
Not all hope is lost though. A bachelor's degree can have benefits that aren't fully reflected in the government's labor data. Even for lower-skilled jobs such as waitress or cashier, employers value bachelor's degree-holders more highly than high-school graduates, paying them more for the same work and offering promotions. In addition, you can still live a passionate life, even if you’re not passionate about your job. If you’re at the bottom of the corporate ladder in a great company, try hard every day and look for advancements within the company. You can use this time to go back to school part time. You can leverage your time to figure out exactly what it is you want to do. Maybe it’s starting your own business or building up marketable skills in another industry.
Is this totally bumming you out? It bums me out for sure. If you were unemployed or underemployed, how did you deal? Did you find a way into a good job? Share your stories in the comments.