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Recent College Graduates Face Long-Lasting Economic Damage

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snapshot-wages_college_gradsThey say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this graph certainly is. (Including, though it’s not what I’m focusing on here, quite a few words about gender inequality.)

Heidi Shierholz writes:

After gains in the 1980s and particularly in the 1990s, hourly wages for young college-educated men in 2000 were $22.75, but that dropped by almost a full dollar to $21.77 by 2010.  For young college-educated women, hourly wages fell from $19.38 to $18.43 over the same period.  Now, with unemployment expected to remain above 8% well into 2014, it will likely be many years before young college graduates — or any workers — see substantial wage growth.

A recent New York Times article adds some more information about what new college graduates face:

The numbers are not encouraging. About 14 percent of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2010 are looking for full-time jobs, either because they are unemployed or have only part-time jobs, according to a survey of 571 recent college graduates released in May by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers.

And then there is the slice of graduates effectively underemployed, using a college degree for positions that don’t require one or barely scraping by, working in call centers, bars or art-supply stores.

[…]

The Heldrich survey also found that the portion of graduates who described their first job as a “career” fell from 30 percent, if they graduated before the 2008 economic downturn (in 2006 and 2007), to 22 percent, if they graduated after the downturn (in 2009 and 2010).

This isn’t something that will just affect these young workers for a couple years, until the economy recovers. For one thing, a real jobs recovery does not seem to be on the horizon. But even if it is, studies show that people who first enter the job market in a recession face a significant earnings loss that persists for more than 15 years.

Too bad there’s no chance of the federal government doing anything meaningful to create jobs.

This post originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on September 7, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.


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