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For the past few years, recent and soon-to-be college graduates have been forced to listen to a lot of bitching and moaning about how tough it is to find steady employment in the current market. We've all heard the horror stories about the Swarthmore grad with a B.A. in art history who could only get hired as a ladies' room attendant at Arby's, and we've all read the countless op-eds about how the economy is so deep in the shitter that in ten to fifteen years, all millennials will still be unemployed and living on their parents' couches, eating instant ramen and watching Judge Joe Brown until the end of time.
You've probably assumed that these reports are a bit overblown, and that the job market for recent grads is not nearly as bad as the headlines say it is. Well, guess what, Sandy Sunshine? According to research from Rutgers University, it is. The study, which was released Thursday, says that fewer than half of those who graduated after 2009 found a full-time job within twelve months after graduation, as opposed to the 73% of college grads from the classes of 2006 to 2008. Furthermore, those who graduated after 2009 are one-third as likely to have found a full-time job as those who graduated just a few years before them. If you're about to graduate, and that doesn't make you want to dig a hole in the student rec center and never, ever come out, I don't know what will.
The study also determined that of those post-2009 grads who did end up finding full-time employment, 43% have jobs that do not require a college degree, prompting many to agree with their mothers' advice four years ago that you probably shouldn't have wasted four credits on that "Hegelian Dialectics in Buffy the Vampire Slayer" course you took sophomore year. Employed, post-2009 graduates also have an average starting salary of $27,000, $3,000 less than the average starting salary for the classes of 2006 and 2007; experts estimate that given the fragile state of the post-2009 economy, these wages are likely to stay depressed for the next ten or fifteen years.
Of course, the results of the Rutgers study aren't exactly surprising. As a (very) recent college graduate who is currently juggling about three to four different part-time jobs, researchers would only have to look at my checking account and inside my refrigerator to determine just how truly fucked my generation is. And for the record, I will not get rid of that bottle of horseradish mustard that expired in January, because it offsets the smell of the leftover lo mein from Halloween 2011. See, my critical thinking skills are being put to use; my liberal arts degree was worth something after all. (Take that, Rutgers study!)