Students graduating from college this Spring will face the worst job market for graduates since the Great Depression, a new report says. “The Class of 2011: Young Workers Face a Dire Labor Market Without a Safety Net” by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that unemployment among workers between the ages of 16 and 24 is more than double the national average. In 2010, young workers averaged 18.4 percent unemployment, compared with 9.6 percent overall.
The news is worst for young blacks and Hispanics, who are suffering disproportionately. The unemployment rate for black high school graduates under age 25 and not enrolled in school was 31.8 percent last year and stands at 22.8 percent for Hispanic high school graduates and 20.3 percent for white high school graduates. The unemployment rate for young black college graduates was 19 percent compared with 13.8 percent for young Hispanic graduates and 8.4 percent for young white graduates.
Younger high school graduates also are not keeping pace with their older peers. Their 22.5 percent unemployment rate in 2010 is more than double the 10.3 percent rate among high school graduates age 25 and older.
The authors of the study, economists Heidi Shierholz and Kathryn Anne Edwards, say there is a persistent high unemployment rate among graduates who have entered the job market since late 2008. There is now a backlog of unemployed or underemployed graduates from the past two years that leaves the current graduating class at a significant disadvantage.
Shierholz says the federal government should step in with relief.
The best thing we can do is to generate a faster a recovery in the overall labor market that will move the dial for [graduates] and unemployed workers in general. There is a clear lever we can push to make that happen but decisions are being made [by Congress] based on items outside of economics.