Returning to an all Ramen diet: college graduates and unemployment

For a long time a college diploma was a golden ticket to livelihood, a mortgage and adulthood.

Then along came the recession and the linear storyline for most adults with college diplomas, often called “millennials,” between the ages of 18-29, abruptly ended. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report published in August 2011, the number of unemployed youth rose to 18.6 million in July.

The Atlantic argues that the longer a college graduate is unemployed or underemployed, the lower their overall income is going to be. It takes time and experience to develop a career and gain wage increases. A large number of college graduates are getting a late start with finding a long term job or a moving from one temporary gig to another, contributing to lower wages.

According to a Gallup poll, underemployment is at 18.2 percent, with 9.2 percent of time workers seeking full-time work. At this rate many recent graduates are returning home and prolonging an adolescence that, with the standards predating the recession, would have ended with graduation and began with a career.

Without an adequate salary to pay off student loans or remain self sufficient, college graduates are increasingly declaring bankruptcy, according to the Washington Post. Not only that but according to the Atlantic “Total student loan debt infamously eclipsed credit card debt last year at $850 billion” while tuition rates continue to rise.

Still there is light cresting over the horizon, albeit one littered with debt. Jon Frank urges students to continue pursuing an education. President Obama’s jobs plan also includes incentives for college graduates to work with small business owners and in education.

The unemployment rate for college graduates over the age of 25 falls at 4.3 percent, meaning 95 percent of college graduates still have jobs, though neither the BLS study nor the cited story specify a specific age group.

The recently graduated are a resilient group. Though the job market is all but at a standstill, the BLS reports show a slight decrease in unemployment rates for college graduates, from 4.6 percent in August 2010 to 4.3 in August 2011.

Besides, with the college experience not too far behind, living cheaply is still fresh in the memory.