High school and college graduates may have more difficulty trading their mortarboards for jobs this spring than any graduating class in nearly three decades, according to a new report.
“The truth is that the recession is taking a heavy toll on young workers,” Josh Bivens, a co-author of the report from the Economic Policy Institute, says in a press release. “If we don’t create millions of jobs, young workers will pay a heavy price for years to come.” The Institute is a Washington-based think tank.
Graduates are facing the toughest job market since at least 1983, says the paper, which analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for college graduates younger than 25 jumped to an average of 9 percent between April 2009 and March 2010, compared with a 5.4 percent average in 2007. That rate, the report notes, doesn’t account for graduates who are employed parttime or at jobs beneath their skill levels. Over the same interval, the unemployment rate skyrocketed from 12 percent to 22.5 percent for high school graduates not seeking postsecondary education.
The report also warns that a growing number of young people who are becoming disconnected from formal education and the workforce as a result of the recent recession will “fall through large gaps in the public safety net” unless government spending increases on jobs programs. And it rejects arguments that higher deficit spending aimed at creating jobs will leave a greater burden to future generations.
Further, while some have pointed to rising college enrollment as a silver lining in the recent recession, the report says those increases reflect a far more gradual, decades-old trend. Between April 2009 and March 2010, 53.6 percent of 16 to 24-year olds were enrolled in high school or college. The increase was less than 2 percent from two years prior and not indicative of a recession-driven spike, the report says.
A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 2010 edition of Education Week as New Graduates Face Slim Job Prospects