Half of new college grads unemployed or underemployed

Is a college degree an “empty cliff”?

That’s what one recent graduate calls it. He’s referring to the lack of jobs out there for those who’ve earned a diploma lately.

According to The Associated Press:

“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.”

Know anybody like that?

The report continues:

“While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating mid-level jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

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

18 comments Add your comment


April 23rd, 2012
10:03 am

As my father used to say, a college education opens the door but you have to step through. Now that I am a father myself, I have worked with my kids. The college degree by itself isn’t enough and I have taught my kids how to network and also how to build a corresponding set of internships. They know that they are graduating into a tough economy and that to succeed, they have to aggresively and proactively compete. My oldest has graduated with a liberal arts degree and has a good job in her field and has already been promoted. My middle child is a junior in college and has an impressive set of summer jobs and internships which relate directly to her field. SHe is exploring graduate school and has already reviewed the requirements and is working to 1) add to her experience and 2) assemble a powerful set of references and supporters. My third child is about to graduate from high school and already has three internships under his belt. THe point is that simply relying on the degree and blaming the college when you don’t get a job offer totally misses the point.


April 23rd, 2012
10:46 am

I got a degree two years ago in sociology at Ga State and can’t find any good jobs—I’m still working as a bartender, making about $23,000. When will the jobs come back?? Hopefully, the government does something soon.


April 23rd, 2012
10:46 am

We have pushed down theworth of a college degree over the last couple of decades. We make every child that they must go to college to “be something.” However, there is something to be said for trade schools. We need plumbers, electricians, hair stylists, and mechanics. For that matter, they make good money too.

Unfortunately, with our push to send everyone to college, college graduates are now a dime-a-dozen. If you won’t work for substandard wages, there is someone else out there with a degree that will. This is depressing wages in the job market.

We need to wake up and realize this mentality is hurting more people than it is helping. We need to make a huge push for people to go in the “skilled trades” and not just tell them they have to go to college.


April 23rd, 2012
10:49 am

Sorry for a couple of typos in my last post.

Nojobs, it is not the government’s responsibility to take care of you. The mentality that you display is part of the problem with society. It is government’s job to provide basic services such as military, police, and fire.

You should have researched the job market better. I could have told you that a degree in sociology wasn’t likely to land you a significant job. A sociology degree does not have very good earning power.


April 23rd, 2012
10:52 am

Why does everyone attend college these days??? Why are so many college students majoring in “soft” majors & not the demanding degrees that usually result in a couple of offers????

Welfare Baby Yeah!!

April 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

Why get a job when the government will pay you to sit on your a$$ and do drugs all day??


April 23rd, 2012
11:39 am

Leading sociologist, Dr. Charles Murry new book “Coming Apart” has some interesting statistics, that he HOPES is wrong! Interesting insight….http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uncommon-knowledge


April 23rd, 2012
1:46 pm

Unless you are getting an undergraduate degree in acctg/business, engineering, or computer science, you are wasting your time and money on a college degree. Two year tech degrees that would teach you how to be an electrician, a plumber, a welder, or skilled craftsman will create larger earning potentials than getting a degree in sociology, psychology, recreation, landscaping, hospitality mgmt, etc. Obama is wrong in saying that everyone should get a college degreee and is perpetuating intellectual snobbery. All work is honorable and skilled craftspeople often make $100k plus per year without a college degree.


April 23rd, 2012
2:11 pm

MiltonMan2: I agree with most of what you said except the part about how some degrees are worthless. There are jobs, even in this economy, for people with degrees in psychology, landscaping, hospitality management etc. It is just that there aren’t as many jobs so what it means is that if you are set on getting that degree, you have to be ready to work harder than your fellow grads with whom you are competing. Not every one can do that and they should acknowledge it other than blame the government or the college.


April 23rd, 2012
2:36 pm

Jose – That’s a great way to prep your kids for college.

nojobs – I have a degree in Computer Systems, and I had 6 years of experience in the field by joining the US Navy. Your issues are: your field of choice has poor employment oppertunities, you have zero experience.

When I left the military, I had a degree and experience. You had a degree.

Let’s pretend we were in the same field. Which one of us would be hired if there was one position available? The answer is: me. You are over-inflating the worth of your degree. In my field (and most other fields), a degree is only worth 2 years of equivilent experience per level of your highest degree (therefore a BA/BS is 4 years and a MA/MS is 6 years). Therefore my military experience was equal to a Masters on it’s own. In order to out shine people like me you have to have that experience.

Go do some pro-bono work on your off time to put on your resume and meet some people in the field.


April 23rd, 2012
4:47 pm

Take what you can get, live within your means and realize things will get better. They always do.


April 23rd, 2012
5:03 pm

I have a degree in Information Technology, B.S. The degree is great to have but you also need certifications and continuing education which means if you stop learning you will not be able to stay in the market. I currently have a contract job but make less than I would like but I am glad to be employeed. I plan to get a new cert this year to increase my marketability. Also NETWORKING is very very important so make connectiosn and say THANK YOU to anyone who offers to help you.


April 23rd, 2012
6:01 pm

There aren’t many degree jobs to be had and the employers know this so they offer jobs and require lots of experience and they require you to be well qualified. And with such a big pool of degree candidates to choose from employers can get the best candidate and still offer low barely livable salaries. A four year degree is not enough these days and it may not be for a long time. Trade school may get you better results as for as a rewarding career for now.

The Mama

April 24th, 2012
1:03 pm

Do something you love and live within your means. If you love music and the arts, accept the fact that you porbably won’t make a lot of money if you choose to make a career in one of those fields. If you love math and computers, you have a better chance of making more money. Whatever you choose – do your work passionately and be the best you can be. Be generous of your time and talents, help those who don’t have as much as you do, and be thankful for everything in life. Look beyond yourself for happiness. Accept others for who they are. And NEVER expect government to solve your problems :)

Y'all hiring?

April 24th, 2012
1:30 pm

Exactly. Don’t depend on your government to bail you out. That is reserved for the banks and auto industry. :)


April 24th, 2012
11:32 pm

major in finance and move to new york—there are plenty of good jobs with good money!

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