Are College Graduates Facing a Tighter Job Market?

ARLINGTON, VA - AUGUST 04:  Job seekers line u... ARLINGTON, VA – AUGUST 04: Job seekers line up before entering a career fair (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

It would seem 2012 has not been the best year for college graduate to enter such a difficult job market with several figures reporting good and bad news. The first revealing figures come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to the BLS, two out of the top ten jobs projected to grow the most between 2010 and 2020 require a bachelor’s degree. What is more, only two require an associate’s degree, two more need a high degree and a total of four require less than a high school degree. You could speculate that with figures like these, institutes devoted to collegiate level education may need to rethink their strategy if this turns out to be true.

The BLS projection might explain why graduates, who are finding work, are settling for jobs that pay less, are outside their field of study and did not require a college education in the first place. For many of them, it is not for lack of trying to find a better job or one where they use their costly education. In an article, Grim job prospects could scar today’s college graduates from USA Today, you will find the story of one recent college graduate living at home who applied to over 80 jobs, but still did not find work. You would think that with the need for such perseverance many new graduates would simply give up, but it would seem they are actually quite persistent and willing to do what it takes to find work.

They will have to be persistent because not only are there many examples like the above one, but the figures do not lie either. In April 2012, the Associated Press reported an alarming 53.6 percent of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree were out of work. They also reported that this is the highest percent in 11 years.

Lack of jobs for recent graduates is causing other problems as well. There is a whole new generation called the “boomerang generation.” The clever name for this generation originates from their tendency to return home after living on their own. Unfortunately, unemployed college graduates are among the many that are forced to consider this option and unemployment is not the only reason for their return home as some graduates face enormous amounts of student debt. Those who are able to find jobs are working in coffee shops, retail sales, food service and other generally low paying jobs that may pay a student loan, but will not support them to live on their own.

Student loans may also leave many graduates to wonder whether pursuing a master’s degree is worth the time and mounting dept. When they finished school, they expected to be rewarded with a job in their area of study only to find this was not the case and there was no reward except long hours looking for a job they cannot find. This could be a mistake though because those with a master’s degree are more likely to find a job than bachelor’s degree holders. What this means is that, students graduating high school need to be prepared to get a master’s degree if they want to increase their job opportunities.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for those recently graduated and current college students, or is this the beginning of a new era here? Is it an era where a bachelor’s degree no longer holds the same value? It would seem the desire to go to college is there with an Economic News Release from the BLS indicating that 68.3 percent of high school graduates in 2011 went on to college coursework. However, current high school students who wish to pursue a college degree may need to carefully evaluate both their choice to attend college and what field of study they choose.

If a high school student wishes to go on to pursue more schooling, whether college or not, the evidence suggests that it is in their best interest to do some research on prospective careers before spending money on a degree. They may have to carefully weigh whether they should pursue a career that is not projected to grow in the future. It is true that finding a career one is passionate about is important, but to pursue an expensive degree only to find no job in that field is discouraging. It also means they may have to go back to school if they do not want to settle for lower pay or the very opposite of a job they love- one they dislike instead.

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