Friday, March 01, 2013

Unemployment among Recent College Graduates

How are recent college graduates doing? The Bureau of Labor Statistics wanted to find out, so it drilled down into the October 2011 school enrollment supplement to the Current Population Survey and examined the labor force experience of men and women who had recently earned a bachelor's or advanced degree.

There is some good news: The job shortage that confronted recent college graduates in the midst of the Great Recession has eased somewhat, although the current situation is a long way from the heady days of 2007. Among recent college graduates with a bachelor's degree, the unemployment rate climbed from 9.0 percent in 2007 to a peak of 17.6 percent in 2009. A smaller but still substantial 13.5 percent were unemployed in 2011.

Men were hit harder: Men who had recently graduated with a bachelor's degree saw their unemployment rate rise from 11.4 percent in 2007 to an astounding peak of 26.6 percent in 2009. This is in stark contrast to their female counterparts, whose unemployment rate climbed only from 7.3 to 10.9 percent during those years. The unemployment rate was 16.1 percent among men and 11.2 among women in 2011.

An advanced degree helps: Now that a bachelor's degree is as common as popcorn, having an advanced degree gives young adults a competitive edge in the labor market. Among recent graduates with an advanced degree, unemployment climbed from a tiny 3.1 percent in 2007 to a peak of 10.8 percent in 2010. In 2011, the rate had fallen to 8.6 percent (12.0 percent among men and 6.1 percent among women).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Recent College Graduates in the U.S. Labor Force: Data from the Current Population Survey, Monthly Labor Review, February 2013

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