Job Prospects Poor for Most Recent College Grads

Troubles continue for recent college graduates facing a difficult job market that forces them to accept entry-level employment or go back to school.

The post-graduate employment market has gotten so bad that only 64% of the kids graduating between 2011 and 2012 have been able to find a job of any kind — and the majority of jobs didn’t require a bachelors degree to qualify. An online survey of over 500,000 young workers between June 2011 and July 2012 showed that those with a degree are typically filling slots meant for students with only a high school diploma or those who dropped out.

The worst news is that the jobs for which students were working their way through college are now being given to older and more experienced Americans who would have typically retired or progressed within their company, but are being held back by the severe and ongoing employment crunch.

Another survey out of Rutgers found that about half of college graduates are finding themselves working in a job that doesn’t require any of the skills they obtained in the course of their studies. Only 1/5th actually managed to get that fit their major in a relevant way. Most find themselves in a paid position that wouldn’t have required a four-year degree to obtain, causing some survey takers to think that the the time and money invested in the higher education might have been a waste.

 Over the past year, workers over 55 accounted for 58% of employment growth, says Dean Baker, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. Why? Employers think older workers are a safer bet and more likely to stay, he says. Unemployment hovered at 6.2% in July for workers over 55, according to the Labor Department, but was more than double that rate — 12.7% — for those ages 18 to 29.

Many graduates who don’t wish to while away months or even years working entry-level jobs are choosing to continue with graduate school and hope that by the time they graduate, they will have an additional degree and the employment situation will have improved.

“This generation of young Americans are trapped,” says Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit think tank based in Arlington, Va.

Dave Marshall, 23, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Florida in Gainesville last year, works in private security and is a reservist in the U.S. Army’s National Guard. “My education is almost irrelevant in the private security field,” he says, “but it’s a job.”

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