May 19, 2011

THE GREAT RECESSION’S LOST GENERATION: “The brutal job market brought on by the recession has been hard on everyone, but especially devastating on the youngest members of the labor force. About 60% of recent graduates have not been able to find a full-time job in their chosen profession, according to job placement firm Adecco.” And note that an expensive Ivy League degree is no guarantee of a job. Can you say “higher education bubble?”

UPDATE: Reader Chris Low emails:

Three observations:

1. No doubt about the higher education bubble. The return on investment for education lately is awful;

2. It’s partly what kids choose to study. When I recently hired a research assistant, I looked for people who had taken writing courses. I run an economics department, but the best finance majors/economists are useless if they cannot communicate, and most of the people we interviewed could not even write a resume without a dozen cringe-worthy grammatical errors. The person I hired was a business/finance major, English minor. Most of the applicants we interviewed chose minors like gender studies or human sexuality, which would be fine if colleges emphasized writing in all courses, but they don’t, and these young men and women cannot write;

3. Things are starting to get a little better. One reason younger people couldn’t find jobs during the recession and first two years of ‘recovery’ is that they are competing with an unprecedented number of people over 65 who are either staying in the labor force or reentering it because their retirement savings – mostly in the form of home equity appreciation – were wiped out by the Great Recession. Ask the typical McDonalds manager if she would rather hire a 20 year old or a 65 year old to work the fryer and she’ll take the 65 year old almost every time. Older people are simply more reliable. But as the economy improves, job growth is picking up and there are more opportunities for everyone. Hiring of people under 30 is – finally – growing again.

Of course, none of the improvement will last if gas stays at $4+, but that’s another story.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader A.J. Smith writes:

I just wanted to share my own experiences with the Higher Education Bubble, especially regarding the story you linked on recent grads being unable to find jobs.

I graduated last May with a BA in History (from a small college in West Michigan with a good reputation in our area). Before I started on the BA, I earned an Associates in Mechanical Drafting from a community college. After I graduated, I started to look for jobs in both drafting fields and history-related fields, and after a few months found one doing drafting work. While I’d love a job related to the BA, it was the community college degree that got me a good job and a paycheck- without ever having to take out a loan.

Who kows, maybe someday I’ll go to grad school or do something else in a history-related field. For now, I’m glad I have another skill set.


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