I started writing about tough times for young college grads in 2006, when I was at BusinessWeek. Seems like a different day and age, doesn’t it? Since then things have only gotten much much worse. By my latest calculations:
- Real earnings for young male college grads are down 19% since their peak in 2000.
- Real earnings for young female college grads are down 16% since their peak in 2003.
These figures are for full-time workers, ages 25-34, with a bachelor’s degree only. See the charts below.
I want to ask an economic question, a political question, and a policy question. First, no one has given me a good explanation yet of why young American college grads should have been hit so hard. Is there increased competition with young college grads around the world? Are new college grads lower quality than their predecessors? Has information technology reduced the need for young grads? I really would like to know.
Politically, Obama captured the imagination of this group in 2008. Are young college graduates going to sit out the next presidential election in disgust? Is there any candidate that can excite them?
Finally, if we were going to design some economic policies to help young college grads, what would they be?