The class of 2012 is graduating from community colleges, four-year colleges and universities all across America this month. When they toss their caps in the air, I suggest you duck — because this graduating class has a lot to protest.
While overall U.S. unemployment has dropped to about 8 per cent — in part because many Americans have simply given up looking for work — recent college grads face a much more dismal reality: one out of every two was either jobless or underemployed in 2011.
To combat this epidemic, the Young Entrepreneur Council recently launched the national #FixYoungAmerica campaign. In April, we held a #FixYoungAmerica rally on 300+ college campuses in all 50 states, in which tens of thousands of students participated, and next week, we’ll release #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of essays written by nonprofit founders, educators, politicians and entrepreneurs who shared their own entrepreneurial solutions for ending the youth unemployment crisis in America.
Unfortunately, throughout the campaign, what we’ve really uncovered is just how bad chronic unemployment is for our young people, including college grads. The fact is, young Americans need all the help they can get, and they need it now.
What’s the class of 2012 up against? Take a look for yourself:
1. 1 out of 2 college grads — about 1.5 million, or about 53.6 per cent, of all bachelor’s degree holders age 25 or younger — were unemployed or underemployed in 2011.
2. 3 in 5 young college grads are unemployed or underemployed in the Mountain West region of the United States. The next-worst regions for being a young college grad looking for work? The Southeast and Pacific regions.
3. The share of employed young adults (aged 18-24) is at a 60-year low. It has dropped to 54.3 per cent — the lowest level since government began tracking it in 1948.
4. Only 56 per cent of American teenagers believe they’ll be as well off as their parents financially– a 37 per cent drop since 2011.
5. Only 18 per cent of American teens say they’ll be financially independent when they turn 20 — compared to 44 per cent in 2011.
6. The 15-percentage-point gap between young and working-age adults right now is the widest in recorded history.
7. While overall unemployment is around 8 per cent, 29.1 per cent of young male veterans and 36.1 per cent of young female veterans age 18-24 were unemployed 2011—compared to 17.6 and 14.5 per cent, respectively, of non-veteran young men and women.
8. Young American women still earn less than young American men, regardless of their educational background.
9. According to some researchers, up to 95 per cent of job positions lost occurred in low-tech, middle-income jobs like bank tellers. Gains in jobs are going to workers at the top or the bottom, not in the middle.
10. More college graduates are getting low-level jobs, period. U.S. bachelor’s degree holders are more likely to wait tables, tend bar or become food-service helpers than to be employed as engineers, physicists, chemists or mathematicians combined — 100,000 versus 90,000.
11. More recent grads are working in administrative jobs than in all professional computer jobs out there — 163,000 versus 100,000.
12. More college grads are cashiers, retail clerks or customer representatives than engineers — 125,000 versus 80,000, to be exact.
13. Of young Americans aged 18-34, half have taken a job they didn’t want in order to pay bills.
14. 24 per cent of young Americans aged 18 to 34 said they took an unpaid job for work experience.
15. According to new U.S. government projections, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings in the next eight years will require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Most job openings by 2012 will be in low-wage professions like retail sales, fast food and truck driving.
16. More than 35 per cent of young Americans went back to school because of the economy.
17. 31 per cent of young Americans postponed getting married or having a baby due to their financial situation.
18. One in four young Americans moved back in with their parents AFTER living on their own.
19. Median earnings for young African Americans are only 75 per cent of the earnings of whites. For young Latinos, the number is even lower — 68 per cent.
20. Almost half — 41.3 per cent — of 25 to 34-year-old young Americans spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent every month.
21. Credit card debt has risen 81 per cent among young Americans aged 25-34 since 1989.
22. The student loan default rate rose 31 per cent over just two years.
23. Student loan debt is reaching debt-bubble proportions — it recently topped $1 trillion (and exceeds total credit card debt in the United States).
24. Two out of three college students now graduate with student loan debt. Average tuition is three times higher today than in 1980.
25. Average student loan debt is now more than $25,000.
26. African American students are more likely to take out student loans and graduate, on average, with higher levels of debt.
27. Federal student loan default rate is 8.8 per cent and projected to rise.
28. Although 92 per cent of young Americans aged 21-24 said they felt entrepreneurship education was vital given the realities of the new economy and job market, more than half (56 per cent) were never offered entrepreneurship classes at all.*
29. Most — 62 per cent — students who were offered entrepreneurship classes said they didn’t feel the classes prepared them enough to start a business.*
30. Of employed young Americans aged 18-34, less than half think they have the education and training they need to get ahead in their jobs today.
31. More than 53 per cent of U.S. companies say they’re having trouble finding skilled non-managerial employees, in spite of the high number of unemployed Americans.
32. 72 per cent of youth said they do not feel they have enough support from banks, up from 65 per cent in 2010.*
33. 86 per cent of recent grads feel they do not have enough support from the government (YEC/Buzz 2011).*
34. Finally, 52 per cent of young Americans 18-29 feel the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction.
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