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Recent college grads see rise in unemployment

Elizabeth Trovall Apr 23, 2024
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"This is the first sign of [the job market] not being as strong as I thought it was," said Patricia Anderson with Dartmouth. Lawrence Sawyer/Getty Images

Recent college grads see rise in unemployment

Elizabeth Trovall Apr 23, 2024
Heard on:
"This is the first sign of [the job market] not being as strong as I thought it was," said Patricia Anderson with Dartmouth. Lawrence Sawyer/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A possible TikTok ban, a shortage of affordable housing, rising temperatures, artificial intelligence — there’s a lot keeping Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) up at night. And according to an annual report out Tuesday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we may need to add unemployment to that list. Recent findings show that college-educated Gen Zers are having a harder time finding a job than they were a year ago.

The jump in unemployment among recent college grads comes at an odd time in this economy, said Patricia Anderson with Dartmouth College.

“As we’ve been raising interest rates and all these things, I keep saying, ‘Wow, but the job market is still so strong,'” she said. “But this is the first sign of it not being as strong as I thought it was.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found unemployment increased from 8.6% to 12.3% among 20-somethings with bachelor’s degrees between October 2022 and October 2023.

“Which is pretty high when you think about the overall unemployment rate right now is 3.8%,” Anderson said.

It was college-educated women that drove that increase in unemployment. Georgetown University’s Jeff Strohl said he’s heard anecdotally from students that it has been tough to find work. 

“But a lot of evidence that I’ve been hearing is that the tight labor market is more the ‘less than bachelor’s’ market,” Strohl said.

Today’s report showed that unemployment decreased for recent high school graduates not enrolled in college. 

That’s as college enrollment remained flat. “Enrollment has been stabilizing, but it still hasn’t recovered to its pre-pandemic level, where 66% of young adults, recent high school graduates, were enrolled in college,” said Celeste Carruthers with the University of Tennessee.

The current job market for high school graduates could be keeping enrollment down. But down the road, skipping college could be a mistake for Gen Z. 

“Historically, there’s been a very strong return just in the strict financial sense of going to college,” Carruthers said.

And even though college grad unemployment is up, it’s still lower than unemployment for those with no degree at all.

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