March 31, 2013
A college degree doesn’t guarantee anyone a big paycheck anymore.
About 284,000 Americans with college degrees were working minimum wage jobs last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. That’s 70 percent more college grads working for the minimum wage than 10 years ago. Still, the number is down from its 2010 high of 327,000.
As unemployment skyrocketed during the economic downturn, job opportunities for everyone — including college graduates — narrowed and low-wage work began to replace steady middle-class jobs. Three-fifths of the jobs lost during the recession paid middle-income wages, while the same share of the jobs created during the recovery are low-wage work, according to an August study from the National Employment Law Project.
The result: Nearly half of the college graduates in the class of 2010 are working in jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent have jobs that don’t even require a high school diploma, according to a January report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. The report called into question whether too much public money is being spent on providing students with degrees that make them overqualified for the only jobs that are available.
But it’s not only the government shouldering the cost of a college degree. Household student loan debt soared to a record in 2010, with nearly one in five American households burdened with college debt. And with the weak job market, recent graduates are going to have an increasingly tough time paying that debt off. Themedian wage for those with a bachelor’s degree is down from a decade ago, according to the Associated Press.