When the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that 204,000 new jobs were created in the past month, we must realize that this figure of 204,000 is a net of jobs created less jobs lost. New jobs are created each year and the number will vary with the status of the economy but a safe bet is around 800,000 net new jobs each year. Now if you are a recent college graduate, your job prospects are bleak. On the average we graduate from our colleges and universities approximately 1,450,000 students each year. This is about twice the number of new net jobs created in the United States alone.
Again according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 92% of all new jobs created each year are in the service industry. Of these new jobs created, 29% are in the health care or social services area. Waitresses and bartenders account for 20% of the new service jobs. At last count, 4.1 million U. S. workers are employed in the food preparation and serving industry. Another shocking figure is that 77% of all new jobs are “part time” positions!
To make matters worse, we will always have some number of workers unemployed as they look for new positions. Depending upon which month you pick, there are about 13.9 million Americans that are officially unemployed – official meaning that they are currently receiving unemployment benefits. In June of 2009, when our recent recession officially ended, there were 7 job hunters for every one position in the labor market! The real staggering figure is that there are about 90,609,000 Americans not in the labor force as of October 22, 2013. These are Americans 16 years or older who are not working at all. Of this figure 16,108,000 are African Americans.
Over 47 million Americans now qualify for food stamp assistance or called by the government – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The income requirement for a household of four is $1,838 dollars or $22,056 annually. And while the unemployment rate may have come down from its prior level of 10%, the number of food stamp recipients is soaring. Food stamp applications have risen 39% in the last four years.
The United States economy has fewer good paying jobs than it did at the start of the 21st century. Between the year 2000 and 2010, the U.S. lost 32% of its manufacturing jobs. About 58% of all new jobs created in the past two years paid just $13.83 per hour or less while 22% were in the range of $13.84 to $21.13 an hour.
Now the unemployment rate for recent college graduates age 21 to 24 averaged 8.8% over the past year. But once you include those grads working part-time or who have stopped looking for work, the so-called unemployment rate jumps to 18.3%. Many young grads are questioning whether college was worth it. The average hourly wage was $16.60 down from $18.14 in the year 2000. As of 2012, about 52% of employed college grads under age 25 were not working in jobs that required a college degree.
Complicating this already complicated employment situation is the fact that college is expensive and while no degree should be considered any better or worse than any other degree the hard cold facts are that the college degree has to be marketable. Studying theater, fine arts or music for four years is good but may not be as marketable as a degree in business administration or nursing. Add in the new on-line degree programs and things can get dicey. Employers are now accepting more on-line degree program credentials than they were six years ago, but in many cases the candidate attending a brick and mortar school may have an edge over the on-line candidate in some industries.
I am afraid that the employment picture is bleak for all job candidates in our current economy. However, a college graduate, especially a recent college graduate with any student loan debt, seems to be at a distinct disadvantage in today’s marketplace. They have invested heavily in their future, and in many cases, time is not in their favor.