Just 27 percent of recent high school graduates without a college education have full-time jobs, according to a new national survey from New Jersey’s Rutgers University.
The study, released last week, draws on a nationally representative sample of 544 students who graduated from high school between 2006 and 2011 and are neither enrolled in college nor have a postsecondary degree. It shows that although the U.S. economy has been registering growth, the work situation for young people without postsecondary degrees has remained dire.
According to the report, which was conducted in April, nearly one in three of the young people surveyed is unemployed, and another 15 percent are working part-time and looking for full-time work. Among those who are working, 90 percent are paid hourly, with the median hourly wage for full-time workers just $9.25—barely sufficient to keep them out of poverty.
“It’s striking how severe young people’s problems are,” said Carl Van Horn, a co-author of the study and the director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers. “These are folks at the beginning of their work lives already feeling very pessimistic about themselves.”
Noncollege-going high school graduates also feel the effects of “mal-employment,” said sociologist David Elesh of Temple University in Philadelphia, a co-principal investigator on the Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators Project, which focuses on quality of life in that region.
Such underemployment occurs when college graduates take high school labor-market jobs because their own opportunities are limited. A previous study by the Heldrich center found that only half of recent college graduates are in jobs that require a college education.
A version of this article appeared in the June 13, 2012 edition of Education Week as No College Education, Fewer Job Prospects