The State of Young College Grads 2011

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?

 

Education-Based Inequality Increased In 2010

I usually don’t like graphs with lots of lines, but this one is too important to pass up.

This chart shows median weekly wages for full-time wage and salary workers, adjusted for inflation, and indexed to 2000 (the data comes from the BLS   “usual weekly earnings” series). There are three things to take away from this chart. 

*First, the wage gap between holders of advanced degrees and everyone else widened in 2010.

*Second, workers with advanced degrees have done much  better than everyone else over the medium run,  both since 2000 and since the Great Recession started in 2007. For example, since  2007,  real weekly wages for advanced degree holders have risen by 3.8%, compared to a 0.1% decline for holders of bachelor’s degrees only.

*Third, over the past ten years, the pay for a bachelor’s degree has more or less tracked the pay for high school grads. 

Now, within advanced degree holders, the pay inequality has widened as well. Take a look at this chart. The top decile–that is, the dividing line between the top 10% of advanced degree holders and everyone else–has risen 13% over the past ten years.  The median and the third quartile (top 75%) has risen by 3-4%, while the bottom 25% of advanced degree holders is actually down since 2000.

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers