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Half of Recent College Graduates Are Unemployed or Underemployed

Apr 23, 2012

One in two college graduates don’t have a job or they are underemployed where they don’t fully use their skills and knowledge, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Close to 54 percent of people younger than 25 who have a bachelor’s degree were jobless or underemployed in 2011.

Many young graduates with bachelor’s degrees are taking up lower-wage jobs like bartending, retail clerking, or waitressing.

The median wages for graduates with bachelor’s degrees have decreased from 2000 because technological changes are eliminating mid-level positions like bank tellers, according to The Lakeland Ledger.

"I don't even know what I'm looking for," said 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.

Bledsoe, currently making just more than minimum wage, said he got financial help from his parents to help pay off student loans. He is now weighing whether to go to graduate school, seeing few other options to advance his career. "There is not much out there, it seems," he said.

It might be that the choices young adults make in education levels, academic fields, and how to pay for college can have a lasting financial impact in their lives.

The director of the Center for Labor Market Studies who analyzed the numbers Andrew Sum told The Lakeland Ledger that young adults with bachelor’s degrees have to deal with two issues: rising tuition and poor job prospects.

“Simply put, we're failing kids coming out of college," he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. "We're going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow."

The numbers for the analysis came from the 2011 Current Population Survey data by the Northeastern University and material from a Drexel University and Economy Policy Institute economist, Paul Harrington.