Young College Grad Unemployment

This morning’s jobs report saw the unemployment rate for all 25-34 year olds drop to 9.3%, the lowest level since March 2009.  Good news, for sure. But that comes after a year where the unemployment rate for young workers barely  budged.

In particular, the unemployment rate for young college graduates did not fall at all from the end of 2009 to the end of 2010. Take a look at the chart below, which reports the unemployment rate for young workers, age 25-34, by education. I compared  the fourth quarter of 2009 with the fourth quarter of 2010 (not seasonally adjusted). (The data is not yet available for January 2011, so I’m lagging by one month).

What’s striking here is that young workers with a bachelor’s degree only faced an unemployment rate of  5.2% at the end of 2009, and a statistically identical unemployment rate of 5.3% at the end of 2010.  No wonder young college grads felt like they were on a treadmill to nowhere in 2010 (for a good story on this topic, see my old comrade Peter Coy’s cover story in BusinessWeek this week, the Youth Unemployment Bomb).

However, I suspect that the decline in the young worker unemployment rate in January foreshadows a much much better 2011 for young grads. Here’s hoping!

About Michael Mandel 127 Articles

Michael Mandel was BusinessWeek's chief economist from 1989-2009, where he helped direct the magazine's coverage of the domestic and global economies.

Since joining BusinessWeek in 1989, he has received multiple awards for his work, including being honored as one of the 100 top U.S. business journalists of the 20th century for his coverage of the New Economy. In 2006 Mandel was named "Best Economic Journalist" by the World Leadership Forum.

Mandel is the author of several books, including Rational Exuberance, The Coming Internet Depression, and The High Risk Society.

Mandel holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

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2 Comments on Young College Grad Unemployment

  1. most likely the drop in unemployment is due to grads giving up on job search and go back to grad school or be contented with whatever low paying job they are doing now

  2. I agree with ‘unemployed gra’ – I would much rather see a chart on employment of college graduates within studied field. This doesn’t say much to me other than “McDonald’s Here I Come”… thanks anyway.

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