284,000 college grads making minimum wage
While the number of degree holders working the lowest-paying jobs has fallen a bit since 2010, it's still up 70% in the past decade.
While Congress and the president squabble over giving workers an extra 2 bucks an hour, The Wall Street Journal reports that 284,000 Americans with college degrees worked minimum wage jobs last year. That's down from a 2010 high of 327,000, but it does mean that 70% more college grads are earning minimum wage than a decade ago.
With art-school students and MBAs alike crushed by debt and even Ph.D. students seeking food stamps in increasing numbers, it's understandable that folks would write off college education as an expensive waste in the current economy. Yet a college degree is just about the only way young Americans benefit from the sluggish economic recovery.
From 2010, when the job market bottomed out, to 2012, workers with bachelor's degrees saw their employment rate increase by 5%. Those with advanced degrees fared even better: Among workers with master's, doctoral or professional degrees, about 1.1 million more reported having a job in 2012 than in 2010. According to the Labor Department, that 6.7% increase represents the fastest employment gain of any education level during that span.
Unfortunately, people without an advanced education are getting pushed out of the labor market altogether. The 36% of American workers older than 25 with a high school education or less started losing jobs in 2007 and haven't stopped. About 767,000 fewer of them reported having a job in 2012 than in 2010, and 2 million workers in that demographic left the job market altogether during that span.
It doesn't help that the college kids are sucking up just about every job imaginable. The U.S. economy has recovered 5.7 million of the 8.7 million jobs shed during the recession. Roughly 65% of those regained jobs have been of the low-wage variety, though the National Employment Law Project says nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the recession paid middle-income wages or better.
As a result, The Center For College Affordability and Productivity reported that nearly half of the college graduates from the class of 2010 are working in jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree. A full 38% have taken gigs that don't even require a high school education. According to The Associated Press, that has dropped the median wage for college graduates significantly since 2000.
That's a lot of parchment behind the counters at Starbucks (SBUX), Panera Bread (PNRA) and Wal-Mart (WMT), but it's not going to stop a flood of overqualified applicants from stuffing Costco's (COST) inbox when the company says it supports boosting the minimum wage. To student loan providers, cash from big-box store paychecks looks just the same as that doled out by the payroll departments at Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM).
As someone who supervises college students as interns on a regular basis, one thing I have noticed is the unrealistic expectations of today's youth. Many of them expect to start out making more than I make with an advanced degree and twenty years experience.
No one thing or person to blame, but the colleges themselves are guilty for allowing students to borrow massive amounts to pursue useless degrees. I'm thinking Sociology, Psychology, Graphics Arts, and so many more.
Want a great job: Carpenter, Plumber, Air Conditioning, Electrician, the trades go begging. Some of these trades make great money, trust me, I did their taxes for years.
I'm a CPA and it ain't a bad way to make a living. Yes, it's college and the test is a son of gun but worth the effort.. Everybody has an accountant. I've worked in many businesses. Semi Retired now and still working part time at home in my pajamas or out on the deck.
Last year I spoke with one client graduating in Law Enforcement who couldn't find work. At the time our brilliant Government cut essential Police & Fire employment to save money rather than any really wasteful program. I told him to join the Air Force, which is the cleanest living and best of the services, But the Army & Navy has cops too. He is now a 2nd LT running a squad of Air Police. He can do a career or muster out. A Vet with experience is a valued employee almost anywhere. He'll have a whole new world when he gets out.
Yea, I'm a USAF Vet and Uncle Sugar paid for my college! No college loans here!
I graduated from UCF in December with a Bacehlor's in Accounting and I had a job waiting for me before I even graduated. I CHOSE a degree I knew would be marketable and an easy sell to employers. All these students with pointless degrees end up really hurting themselves because noone cares that you have a communications or arts degree. You end up graduating in debt and with a degree thats about as useless as a GED. And people who blame it on experience, how about you get some before you graduate. I found an internship at Siemens during school because I searched diligently for one and didn't give up. If you want something bad enough you can EARN it. All these students go to college to party and expect to just fall into a great job after school. It's a rude awakening for the simple minded.
The real problem is that college students are stuck in the experience-degree catch 22. Jobs require some level of experience -- even for entry level jobs -- but they also want a degree to match. Students are pressured to remain full-time, which increases their work loads and tuition fees to the point that they cannot afford to have part-time college jobs (which may or may not increase their experience in their field). Colleges and Universities that offer semester internships take away another semester of courses that may or may not be available the following semester due to funding/scheduling. Colleges often do not have any openings for on campus jobs due to funding cuts and, in some places, there are no off-campus locales to offer jobs either.
This isn't completely about "useless" degrees. My friend has an MBA in Finance but could not find a single job -- not even an internship -- for 8 months after graduation. Target wouldn't even take him for a part-time job because he was "overqualified" to be a cashier or security guard. He's since gone back to school to waste more money on more undergraduate and graduate level courses to get another degree in Mechanical Engineering -- with which he's hoping to have more luck. I have a BA in History (typically characterized as a "useless degree") and, had my current employer not taken a chance on my inexperienced skills for my position, I would be stuck at my previous part-time job where I held barely 12hrs/wk. Other job postings for my position in my area want 5-7 years experience and a degree in the field for an entry level applicant. The experience-degree problem is going to continue putting college students into debt and employed at the lowest wage jobs they can convince to take them.
Sucks to be a Liberal Arts major.
I chose to get a degree in something useful, so my salary has gone up by a hair over 50% since the recession started.
Hmmm, maybe getting an liberal arts "education" wasn't a good idea afterall! Like voting for the dummyrats.
Everyone here seems to act like everyone can just jump into Accounting or Computer Programming and zip along to a great job. I'm sorry, but not everyone can attain those skills. If we could, don't you think we'd all be flocking to those industries' salaries? Could everyone here just magically be able to learn the higher level science and math skills those jobs require? Because I know I couldn't. I'm a great student, but I know when I'm not picking something up. Not everyone can do that kind of work, just like most people can't make movies or some can't be in the military. For some of us, soft sciences are where our brains are the most useful, and despite the flagging job market I think there's still a lot of demand for these jobs, it's just that the older population is still working rather than retiring because of the bad economy.
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