Citing a report by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Think Progress examines the plight of recent college graduates who can only land low paying jobs. Ironically, some jobs that don’t require college degrees pay significantly more. The report does not deny that people with degrees have better work opportunities. What it notes is that more graduates are not enjoying opportunities they had in the past. As a country, we need to start paying attention to the kind of jobs that are being created in the current “recovery.” As more stories of college students falling through the economic cracks become prominent, especially when they are backed by data from the New York Fed, it’s logical to assume that some students will give up on college and give up on their future. Opportunity needs to be more than a political slogan.
Writing in Daily Kos¸ Meteor Blades reports that our focus on more jobs may be missing a bigger problem. The economy has added jobs. The problem is that more and more of them tend to be part-time or paid at lower wages. Blades cites a this eye-popping statistic: In 2008 4.7 million Americans were employed part-time. That number is now, just five years later, 7.8 million. Even more shocking, the retail industry has cut one million jobs since 2006 and only added 500,000 part-time jobs.
Recent economic news has sounded good: more people working, improved housing market, and more factory orders. None of this happy talk will matter if employees keep getting squeezed on income. My clients tend to be professionals with college degrees. Over the last year too many to count have told stories of going 3-5 years with no increase in pay. If this continues, the chickens will come to roost.