The News York Times has a good story today on the fact that even workers with jobs are struggling because they are underemployed. The story opens with an Atlanta woman at a job fair; she has a job but her hours and her pay has been cut and she can’t make ends meet.
But what is applicable to our discussions are these two points addressed in the news story: College tuition has been rising faster than inflation or salaries and college grads are still faring better in the job market that those without degrees.
Expenses like putting a child through college — where tuition has been rising faster than inflation or wages — can be a daunting task. When Morgan Woodward, 21, began her freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley, three years ago, her parents paid about $9,000 a year in tuition and fees. Now they pay closer to $13,000, and they are bracing for the possibility of another jump next year. With their incomes flat, though, they recently borrowed money to pay for her final year, and to begin paying the tuition of their son, who plans to start college this fall.
“You know there is going to be small incremental increases in tuition, but not the 8, 10, 12 percent increase every year we’ve seen,” said Ms. Woodward’s father, Cliff Woodward, 52, who lives in Pleasanton, Calif., and is an independent sales representative for an eyeglass company.
People with college degrees still get jobs with better pay and benefits than those without, but many recent college graduates are finding it hard to land the kinds of jobs they had envisioned.
Garland Miller, 28, who has degrees in finance and accounting from the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University, had hoped to land a job at a big accounting firm, and to have been able to buy a home by now. Instead he finds himself working as the lead server at a steakhouse. But he has not given up on trying to move into the field that he prepared himself for: This month, he attended a jobs fair in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta, organized by the University of Georgia for its alumni.
“I’m not in a job where I’m using all of my skills,” Mr. Miller said. He said that with many baby boomers unable to retire as early as they had hoped, there are fewer opportunities for younger workers to move up and take their places. “Instead you have everybody competing for entry-level positions,” he said.
Things are much worse for people without college degrees, though. The real entry-level hourly wage for men who recently graduated from high school fell to $11.68 last year, from $15.64 in 1979, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute. And the percentage of those jobs that offer health insurance has plummeted to 22.8 percent, from 63.3 percent in 1979. Though inflation has stayed relatively low in recent years, it has remained high for some of the most important things: college, health care and even, recently, food.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog