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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
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New College Grads Struggle in Job Market

AP Analysis shows that 1 in 2 new college grads are either unemployed or underemployed.

(Photo courtesy of AP)
(Photo courtesy of AP)

Young adults with bachelor degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs due to technological changes and a weak labor market.

An analysis of government data conducted for the Associated Press released Monday, explains the opportunities for graduates with bachelor’s degrees. 

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed. This marks the highest percentage in at least 11 years.  In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent.

Employers have a strong demand for graduates in science, education and health fields while those with art and humanities are less desirable.

Jobs that some college graduates would look to as an entry level position are being replaced by automated machines or software.  

Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages. 

"You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it's not true for everybody," says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. "If you're not sure what you're going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college."

According to government projections released last month, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor's degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants.

Most job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving; jobs which aren't easily replaced by computers.

In addition, U.S. workers increasingly may need to consider their position in a global economy, where they must compete with educated foreign-born residents for jobs.

Long-term government projections also may fail to consider "degree inflation," a growing ubiquity of bachelor's degrees that could make them more commonplace in lower-wage jobs but inadequate for higher-wage ones.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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