Guess what percent of recent college grads are in low-wage jobs earning $25,000 or less

OK – we know that recent college grads are struggling in the job market. But just how bad is it, really? Surely not everyone is a barista? And how do today’s trends compare with the past? January data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, reported in The Atlantic, offer a sobering – but not necessarily calamitous – picture.

Here is a link to the full article, by Jordan Weissmann. The story is summed up in two graphs.

The first shows that in 2012, about 44% of working young college grads were “underemployed” – that is, working in jobs that did not require their degree. Not good. But actually, the same rate as 1994.

The second graph makes a distinction between “good” non-college jobs (not requiring a degree, but paying $45,000 a year) and “low-wage” non-college jobs, paying $25,000 a year or less. Of the 44% of all grads in n0n-college jobs (Graph 1), about 20% of them are in “low-wage” jobs — meaning 9% of college grads are in “low-wage” jobs.

As Weissmann points out, “In a sense, this reflects a shift in the  broader economy; for more than a decade now, middle-class jobs have given way to low-wage service work. And young college graduates haven’t been spared the change.”

Perfectly true. And in a sense, this means that universities can’t bear 100% of the responsibility for lousy job prospects for so many grads. But that still doesn’t help when you factor in those skyrocketing tuition fees. You can expect more pressure on universities to get into the real world. And that can only be a good thing.



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. Vice President, Zoomer Media Ltd. . Author of "The New Old" . 30 years experience in marketing communications, advertising, media . Speaker, writer, commentator on the revolution in aging and how to market to Boomers and seniors