Graduating from college is supposed to be a time of great hope. You're supposed to take all of the clichéd lessons from your commencement speaker and go forth into the world to make a difference. Your future is just beginning, the world is your oyster, etc. Except that in order to make a difference, or more accurately, pay off your student loans, most people need a job. Sadly, these days getting one of those is proving to be damn near impossible, according to a new study out today.
The research, done at Rutgers University, found that of the kids who've graduated from college since 2006, only 51 percent of them have full-time employment, and eleven percent of them are not working at all. That's bad enough, but when you look at just those people who have graduated since 2009, it gets even worse. Fewer than half of them found a job within a year of graduating; whereas 73 percent of those who graduated between 2006 and 2008 found jobs in the first year. Kids who graduated after 2009 are three times more likely to not have a fulltime job than the kids who finished between 2006 and 2008. Carl Van Horn, one of the study's co-authors, says,
The resilience of this year's and recent college graduates are being tested. Students who graduated during the past several years are facing historic obstacles in achieving the foundations of the American dream.
Well, the idea that they've got to go out there and dream the impossible dream really ought to motivate everyone currently busting ass to finish up school and get out into the "real world."
Serena Whitecotton, a 22-year-old who graduated last year from California State University says she's applied for more than 400 jobs in journalism and PR, and has only gotten 10 interviews and no jobs. She has to live at home with her parents, and says,
I worked really hard in school. Now I'm doing absolutely nothing. It's just hard to share that with people without feeling pathetic.
That is a bummer, for sure, but perhaps it will help Whitecotton to know that there are plenty of other people in the exact same boat. It's no surprise that the depressing state of things has led to some serious dissatisfaction among graduates. Only half of the kids with full-time jobs say they're satisfied with their position, and student loan debt is also a real problem. More than half of kids graduate with an average of $20,000 in debt, and 25 percent of those with debt have made zero progress in paying it off.
Of course, while it sucks to be one of the unemployed, this glut of graduates without jobs has larger consequences for the economy. Since 2009, the average starting salary for college grads has been $27,000. It was $30,000 for kids who finished in 2006 and 2007. This decline in wages is a result of so much competition for not very many jobs, and the Economic Policy Institute says the wages of this current crop of graduates are likely to remain depressed for 10 or 15 years, since they started out in a weak economy. What's more, many of the kids from recent classes have been forced to accept jobs below their skill level. The Rutgers study found that 43 percent of the kids who were employed had jobs that didn't require a college degree. Wow, suddenly going to college is beginning to sound like the worst idea ever.
Image via olly/Shutterstock.