College graduates with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly either unemployed or underemployed.
Many are opting for lower paying service industry jobs, jobs that previously would have required little or no education. There is a demand for workers in the fields of science, health care and education. These fields are somewhat limited as not everyone wants to or can complete the rigorous academic requirements of becoming an engineer, a scientist or a nurse.
According to a government data analysis, most future job openings will be in the lower skilled and lower paying areas of the economy. Many jobs such as home health aides or nurse’s aides are very demanding with relatively low pay will be needed as the U.S. population ages.
Many students entering college as a freshman assumed that they were enhancing their job prospects by going to college and while that is still true, it is somewhat less true than years ago. New labor and management technologies have eliminated or reduced a large number of jobs over time.
These new realities do not seem to have made their way into the considerations that young people calculate upon applying to college. It may be necessary now for students to consider the amount of debt that they will accumulate against their projected ability to get a job and one that will allow them to reasonably pay off college loans.
As growing college loan indebtedness has just recently surpassed one trillion dollars, students with an uncertain college path may want to work for a time until they have arrived at a career path that seems reasonable to them.
Unfortunately, some academic disciplines may suffer as a result such as the Arts or other creative academic pursuits. I have known several managers that held degrees in the fine arts and were wonderful people managers. Their soft skills or people management abilities were strong and the presence of people like them in management would be missed.
Department of Labor statistics reveal that about 53.6 percent of bachelor degree holders under the age of 25 are jobless or underemployed and this is the highest rate in 11 years. Job growth is at the top and bottom of the wage scale at the expense of many middleclass jobs.
Several studies suggest that 80 percent of the jobs lost during the economic downturn were middle income occupations and are not expected to return. The jobs that remain near the bottom are jobs not yet replaced by technological advance or innovation. Many of these jobs are labor intensive or require live humans to interact with other live human beings such as in many health care jobs or in the retail industry.
Theories abound as to why the middle class has declined so acutely. A reoccurring theme suggests that the effects of free trade are coming to critical mass in our economy with its attendant cultural impact. Economists add that Americans will never be the “hands” of labor again because we cannot compete with countries that pay very low wages, operate with no concern for the environment and have little or no concern for human rights or workers’ rights.
I wonder where this leaves us going forward, will there be a further downgrading of the American standard of living. Will future college graduates face an even more grim reality when they graduate?
I certainly hope that they will not and that we again find ourselves in a place as was before, your children could expect to do as well or better than you did during their lifetime.
Remember, all kids count.
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