Phi Beta Cons

Half of New College Grads Jobless or Underemployed

A new AP story suggests generation Hope & Change is looking more like generation Hope & “Can you spare some change?”

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees…

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

“I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.

The good news is: For students of science and engineering, the employment prospects are much better. But why is it that so few students are aware of the vast differences in employability and earnings between various majors? Why do so many liberal-arts graduates seem utterly surprised that there are no jobs out there for them after graduation? Colleges ought to educate their students on the economic consequences of choosing one major over another.

 Wikimedia Commons)

When colleges publish all those glossy brochures, meant to attract new students willing to shell out tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars for a degree — photos replete with smiling co-eds sharply dressed for the business world — they ought to include a photo of a guy standing beside an espresso machine, wearing a green apron, above a caption that reads: This could be you in four years!

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