Low-Skilled Jobs and the College Graduate

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    As tassels are being turned on mortarboards across the nation this spring, many college students are finding that their job prospects are not particularly good.


What college grads should keep in mind in 2014 and beyond.

In fact, some new graduates will continue in jobs they held while in college, typically low-skill, low paying jobs that may not even require a high school diploma.

Employment Challenges

Unemployment is one challenge that many college graduates face, but not to be ignored is underemployment where these former students are making $8 to $10 per hour, perhaps slightly more. The problem here is that there are not enough jobs for skilled workers being created. Instead, there are an abundance of jobs across many sectors that require only low-skill workers.

Today’s graduates entered school when the Great Recession was raging with many aware that their job prospects following college would be weak at best. Still, years of hearing that college graduates can garner high-wage jobs did not dissuade many from enrolling. This comes despite overwhelming evidence that there is a clear correlation between higher unemployment and lower wages earned by recent graduates.

Employment Trends

In Dec. 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted and US News reported that the number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs was 71 percent higher than a decade earlier. Out of the estimated 284,000 college graduates working minimum wage jobs as of 2012 some 30,000 had master’s degrees.

College graduates may find that making a geographic change could help them find work. The jobless picture is showing improvement in almost all states with only South Dakota and Alabama seeing increases in April. The biggest improvements are coming in the southern states particularly in the Carolinas which are both seeing the most significant employment increases over the past year.

Rhode Island at 8.3 percent and North Dakota at 2.6 percent currently have the highest and lowest unemployment numbers in the nation respectively.

Pay Rates

Graduates should be aware that finishing college when the economy is in poor shape can have lasting ramifications for their careers. Lisa B. Khan of the Yale School of Management told Yale Insights in Sept. 2011, that for every one-percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate, new graduates would earn 7 percent less at the start of their careers. Even 20 years later graduates who finished school during an economic downturn still earned 10 percent less than students who graduated college when the economy was strong.

Despite the challenges facing college graduates, they may find that taking a lower paying job in the industry that they went to school for can help their cause. So, if you are flipping burgers and were a business major, taking a job as an office clerk may seem beneath you, but it can better position you for the right job when the opportunity presents itself.

See AlsoWhat You Need to Know About College Graduation Announcements


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Categories: Campus News