Good Luck, New Grads — You’re Gonna Need It

Photo (cc) by Will Folsom

The economy is on the mend, but the Great Recession continues to haunt younger generations of Americans, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.

On one hand, the Great Recession officially ended in 2009 and the unemployment rate overall has dropped since then, from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to 5.4 percent this April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, graduates of the class of 2015 should have better job prospects than the classes of 2009 through 2014.

On the other hand, the institute’s report states, unemployment levels remain elevated among young college graduates. In addition, wages remain below their prerecession levels:

The recession left millions unemployed for prolonged spells, with recent workforce entrants such as young graduates being particularly vulnerable.

The slow pace of the recovery means that the past seven classes of students have graduated into an acutely weak labor market and have had to compete with more-experienced workers for a limited number of job opportunities. This is on top of … stagnant wages.

The report from the Economic Policy Institute — which describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank — is called “The Class of 2015” and focuses on both high school graduates (ages 17 to 20) and college grads (ages 21 to 24) who are not enrolled in further schooling.

The findings are based on analysis of employment, enrollment and wage trends.

Findings for young college grads include:

  • Unemployment rate: 7.2 percent (compared with 5.5 percent in 2007)
  • Underemployment rate: 14.9 percent (compared with 9.6 percent in 2007)
  • “Idled” rate: 10.5 percent (compared with 8.4 percent in 2007)
  • Wages: down 2 percent since 2007

Findings for high-school grads include:

  • Unemployment rate: 19.5 percent (compared with 15.9 percent in 2007)
  • Underemployment rate: 37 percent (compared with 26.8 percent in 2007)
  • “Idled” rate: 16.3 percent (compared with 13.7 percent in 2007)
  • Wages: down 4.8 percent since 2007

The idled rate refers to graduates who are “idled by the economy,” according to the report. These grads are neither enrolled in further school nor working:

This indicates that many graduates are unable to take the two main paths — receiving further education or getting more work experience — that enable future career success.

As for wages, EPI research assistant Will Kimball tells CBS News that, “through no fault of their own,” new grads are likely to be affected for at least the next decade.

If you are a new grad — or simply looking for a new job or better wages — start here:

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