February 12, 2014 —
In the spring of 2012, the Associated Press (AP) released a study that shocked many people. It stated that only half of the people who graduated college in the previous five years were employed full-time. That means that 50% of recent college graduates were unemployed or employed part-time. The survey caused many people to question: is it really that bad? The answer, it seems, is no. However, the situation for post-grads still isn’t good.
As a recent college graduate (I graduated from Ithaca College in 2012 with a degree in journalism), I suppose I could count myself lucky. I found a full-time job in my field within three months of graduation, and worked at a restaurant in the interim. Many people who graduated at the same time as I did struggled to find work. Some were unemployed, others worked part-time, or at a job not in their field, or one that may not even require a college degree. It had all of us questioning: is college worth the high cost?
In an article that responded to the AP report, The Atlantic assuaged my fears, and I’m sure those of countless others, by putting it all into perspective. “Unemployment for college graduates is higher than normal. Underemployment is more prevalent, though it’s less severe than college critics portray, and perhaps no worse than during the Reagan days,” writer Jordan Weissmann wrote (www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/how-bad-is-the-job-market-f...).
When I looked at official numbers, I was really rather surprised. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report in 2012 looking at Americans under 30 who’d earned a bachelor’s degree in the previous year, as of October of 2011. About 73% were employed (the report didn’t specify between full-time and part-time); more than 11% were still looking for work. In 1994, about 87% of BAs were working either full- or part-time a year after graduation, according to the Department of Education. About 8.4% were out of the labor force, in most cases because they’d returned to school. Just 4.4% were outright unemployed.