Economy

Underemployed new college grads increasingly take low-wage jobs

College graduate moneyA recent report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that a growing number of underemployed college graduates are taking low-wage and part-time jobs.

The Fed examined underemployment—in which individuals work jobs that do not offer full time or do not require a college degree—among all college graduates and recent college graduates, finding that underemployment for all graduates has held steady at approximately 33 percent for the past 20 years.

Underemployment among new college graduates, however, was higher among recent college graduates than college graduates already in the workforce, and the trend has not held steady. Between 1990 and 1991, underemployment among new college graduates rose to 46 percent before falling gradually to reach 34 percent in 2001. By 2012, the number had risen to 44 percent.

Additionally, approximately 50 percent of underemployed recent college grads were in good non-college jobs—skilled, career-oriented jobs that do not require a college degree—in the 1990s, but the number fell to 36 percent by 2009. The share of recent college grads in low-wage jobs rose from approximately 15 percent in 1990 to more than 20 percent by 2009.

“Taken as a whole, these trends provide evidence that the job prospects for recent college graduates have indeed worsened, even though the high rate of undermployment over the past few years is comparable to the level seen in the early 1990s,” the report reads. “Among those recent college graduates who are underemployed, more are working part-time or in low-wage jobs since 2000, while fewer are working in good non-college jobs.”

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