Capitol Report – Economic Reality for New College Grads

By State Representative, Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

For throngs of new college graduates with freshly minted diplomas, this spring will give rise to their official foray into the job market as full time, permanent workers. What are the job prospects for this new class of college graduates?

According to a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, college graduates this spring should have an easier time finding a job than last year’s class.

Employers responding to the survey said they expect to hire 8.6 percent more graduates from the class of 2014 for their U.S. operations than they had initially planned.

That’s an increase in projected hiring over that recorded for the class of 2013, when businesses surveyed expected to hire only 2.1 percent more of that year’s grads than they planned for.

On its face, this might sound like encouraging news for new grads entering the workforce.

However, having more companies actively looking to hire new workers is only part of the employment conundrum that we face.

One must also consider the types of new jobs being created as well as the starting pay.

Needless to say, a college degree doesn’t guarantee anyone a big paycheck anymore.

About 284,000 Americans with college degrees were working minimum wage jobs last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That’s 70 percent more college grads working for the minimum wage than 10 years ago.

Still, the number is down from its 2010 high of 327,000.

As unemployment skyrocketed during the economic downturn, job opportunities for everyone — including college graduates — narrowed and low-wage work began to replace steady middle-class jobs.

Three-fifths of the jobs lost during the Great Recession paid middle income wages, while the same share of the jobs created during the recovery have been lower-paying jobs primarily in the service industry, according to an August study from the National Employment Law Project.

In truth, young grads always suffer disproportionately in a tough economy – the Great Recession and its aftermath is the worse downturn in 70-plus years.

This, in my view, is yet another argument that bolsters the need to raise the minimum wage for workers — of ALL ages.