This paper focuses on recent high school (age 17–20) and college graduates (age 21–24) who are not enrolled in further schooling. We analyze their employment, enrollment, and wage trends in order to glean the Class of 2016’s economic prospects as they start their careers.
Due to the progression of the economic recovery and a substantial improvement in the unemployment rate, members of the Class of 2016 currently have better job prospects than the classes of 2009–2015. However, the Class of 2016 still faces real economic challenges, as evidenced by elevated levels of unemployment and underemployment, and a large share of graduates who still remain “idled” by the economy. In addition, wages of young high school and college graduates have failed to reach their prerecession levels, and have in fact stagnated or declined for almost every group since 2000.
Key findings include:
- Unemployment of young graduates remains elevated today, but not because of something unique about the Great Recession and its aftermath that has affected young people in particular. Rather, it is high because young workers always experience disproportionate increases in unemployment during periods of labor market weakness—and the Great Recession and its aftermath is the longest, most severe period of economic weakness in more than seven decades.
- The vast majority (65.8 percent) of people age 24–29 do not have a college degree. Access to good jobs for these individuals is especially critical, as stable employment allows them to build a career or pay for further schooling.
- Unemployment and underemployment rates among young graduates have improved but remain higher than before the recession began.
- In addition to the unemployed (jobless workers who report that they are actively seeking work), the underemployment rate also includes those who work part time but want full-time work (“involuntary” part-timers), and those who want a job and have looked for work in the last year but have given up actively seeking work in the last four weeks (“marginally attached” workers).
- For young college graduates, the unemployment rate is currently 5.6 percent (compared with 5.5 percent in 2007), and the underemployment rate is 12.6 percent (compared with 9.6 percent in 2007).
- For young high school graduates, the unemployment rate is 17.9 percent (compared with 15.9 percent in 2007), and the underemployment rate is 33.7 percent (compared with 26.8 percent in 2007).
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The class of 2016: the labor market is still far from ideal for young graduates