Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Young college graduates are hurting, part 642

In a recent blogpost, Catherine Rampell of The New York Times notes that the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is uncomfortably high, but not when compared to high school graduates*:
As you can see, the unemployment rate for people in their 20s with college degrees or more education was 5.7 percent (for those whose highest credential was no more than a bachelor’s, the number was 5.8 percent). For those with only a high school diploma or G.E.D., it was more than twice as high, at 16.2 percent.
Ms. Rampell gets these numbers from a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report by Thomas Luke Spreen, it looks at recent college graduates: ("respondents who report they received their degree in the current calendar year") in October of each year from 2007 to 2011.

Looking through the report, it's not exactly a rosy picture. From the conclusion:
The data collected in the CPS School Enrollment Supplement show that 74.5 percent of the 2011 cohort of recent college graduates were employed in October 2011 and that their unemployment rate was 12.6 percent. The employment–population ratio and unemployment rate of recent college graduates were similar in 2011 and 2010. Generally, recipients of advanced degrees were more likely to be employed than those who received bachelor’s degrees.  
For comparison, the unemployment rate for all college graduates, 25 and over in October 2011 was 4.4%. I found this chart (below) in Mr. Spreen's chart to be really sad, especially when you think about young graduates in chemistry:

The jump between 2007 and 2008 (around the time I was looking for work) to be remarkable -- that's basically an entirely different world of unemployment rates. (I wonder what that would look like for young chemists? The data isn't there, I don't think.) It's nice to see things trending down, though.

*Isn't it time for us to stop comparing data for college graduates against non-college graduates, especially in the "should people go to college" debate? They're just terribly, terribly different groups of people, I think. 


  1. I'd say it's pretty obvious there is a shortage of STEM workers.
    Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

    Also, women seem to be fairing significantly better than men... DISCUSS!

    1. One hypothesis is that within the employed category more women than men are underemployed/employed in low wage jobs. My social circle has the majority of women earning more than their male partners and I am not in the age bracket where I would know about people living at home with their parents (do daughters stay at home longer than sons, enabling them to work at lower paying jobs?) However, in my part of the country there is still a perception that for couples, the male will work full time and be the primary bread winner and that the female's job can be part time or just extra cash and some health benefits. Stay-at-home Dads with part time jobs are not socially acceptable here. It would be interesting to look at the new graduate employment broken down by wage and gender.

      It might also be that more economic sectors (like construction,engineering,mining) that get hit hard in a recession hire predominately male employees.

      A third very minor bump on the unemployment charts for this age group in the total population is that the rate of arrests per 100000 per year is about half a percent, most of which are arrests of young men. Failed drug tests and/or arrest records translate to unemployment.

  2. Not exactly on topic, but have you seen InternMatch:

    It might be interesting to know what it currently contains in the way of science-related internship postings.