The ones that never knock

Stay in school, kids. At least till you’re 25, or maybe for as long as you can. That’s the message of the wildly different unemployment rates for college graduates age 20-24 versus age 25 and over.

The September 2011 unemployment rate for college graduates was 4.2%, which sounds pretty good, even though it’s more than double what it was before the recession. However, that’s for college graduates age 25 and over. I reported this a couple days ago but didn’t have a separate rate for younger college graduates, since that wasn’t in last Friday’s BLS employment report. But the data do exist. The New York Times mentioned today that the jobless rate for college grads under age 25 averaged an eye-popping 9.6% over the past year. Before the recession it was just 3.7%. Which sent me scurrying to The Google.

The latest BLS Current Population Survey shows that the rate was 8.1% as of last month — trending down, but still historically high and only a percentage point less than the overall unemployment rate. And this is just by the official definition of unemployment, which doesn’t include discouraged job-seekers who’ve stopped looking, involuntary part-timers, or college grads working in “high school” (or less) jobs that don’t require a college degree. Evidently it’s a lot easier to keep a “college job” than to land one.

Staying in school past college seems almost necessary, too, considering that median pay for moderately young (age 25 to 34) college grads with bachelor’s degree is almost 10% lower than it was a decade ago.

As bad as it is for young college grads, it’s vastly worse for those with less education. Unemployment rates for 20-24 year-olds by educational attainment:

  • some college, no degree: 12.9%
  • high school diploma or GED: 22.4%
  • no high school diploma: 28.5%

With hordes of unemployed young people, thousands of them engaged in mass protests in Wall Street and other locales, this country is reminding me a lot of Europe in the early 1980s. Which makes a bunch of classic English punk and post-punk songs timely again. I’ll go with this one:

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One Response to “The ones that never knock”

  1. Mark E. Says:

    Young people of age today are in quite a quandary. One the one hand, if they go to college, they end up heavily in debt with slim career prospects (at least until they gain some real world work experience as an intern, etc.). On the other hand, if they forgo college, these slim prospects become nearer to none. Personally, I think going to college right after high school isn’t the best idea for most anyway, but that is a bit off target here.

    As bad as it is now, unless things change, it will only get worse. These protests are not just for the present, but the for the future direction of the global economy. I don’t really want to dwell on what awaits my three boys, but how do I not think about their future, such that it might be? It’s sad to think what they might have to go through just for a chance to work for the Clampdown.

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