Future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades

If my kids were still college-age, I think I’d encourage them to get into a union apprentice program. Because if you’re not connected to the one percent job network, I don’t think a college diploma is a sure thing anymore and student loans mean being a debt slave for the rest of your life. But that’s just me.

I’m also torn by the fact that some degrees are more equal than others. It seems brutal to expect high school kids to suppress their talents and dreams to try to fit some more career-worthy mold. For instance, not everyone has the kind of skills that would make them good engineers or computer scientists. But if we’re forcing students onto certain career paths because they’re the only way they can ever afford to go to college in the first place, it doesn’t seem quite… American to me. After all, we’re humans, not car parts:

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees.

Opportunities for college graduates vary widely. While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

[…] “You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody,” says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. “If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.”

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor’s degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. “Simply put, we’re failing kids coming out of college,” he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. “We’re going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow.”

One thought on “Future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades

  1. Two dots to connect: This shades post w/ the eulogy one (above).

    If the best Dem Economics minds can look deeply into this and create a model for RealPeopleTM, we might have a chance to recoup our economy.

    Shades article and your comments are spot on. We’re now in a situation where pre-fab hyperspecialized jobs are the norm (top down), a powerful norm no less, shaping the available niches. In a more entrepreneurial, responsive economy, the pre-fab markets are balanced by innovative ones, arising from grassroots, creating healthy competition, and infusing a measure of alacrity in economic fleetfootedness and pro-active adjustments. Monopolies create sclerotic career channels and stifle competition. Sadly, generational outcry about underutilization hasn’t been sufficient to drive awareness. Per status quo, it’s going to be the looming student loan bubble that announces the alarming trend and puts a fine (exclamation) point on what happens to an economy when monopolies hold sway.

    The student loan bubble is tied in with the single-payer issue, as the model for health care delivery is tied in with the employment model (lurching goliath) stagnancy. Immovability of brick-building stagnancy as it were. The spirit of the Commerce Clause ties in nicely as well. Are we viewed primarily as citizens or consumers?

    We need a new economic model, period. We’ve already gone over the flaws of the current one. Proof, pudding and all. Hope some genius minds in economics go into think tank mode. There are at least two generations in the queue. And the bubble.

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