Clinton Labor Sec. Tells Grads: 'You're Screwed'

Former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has an unsettling message for 2012 college graduates:  "You're screwed."

The blistering verdict came as part Mr. Reich's Sunday column addressed to "Members of the Class of 2012" wherein the former Labor secretary decries the current state of jobs and opportunities for recent college graduates entering the Obama economy:

As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you're picking up today.

You're screwed.

Well, not exactly. But you won't have it easy.

First, you're going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. The job market you're heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of the graduates from last year's class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking.

That's been the pattern over the last three graduating classes: It's been taking graduates more than a year to land the first job. And those who still haven't found a job will be competing with you, making your job search even harder.

Contrast this with the class of 2008, whose members were lucky enough to get out of here and into the job market before the Great Recession really hit. Almost three-quarters of them found jobs within the year.

While careful to make clear that a college degree is still preferable to merely a high school diploma, Mr. Reich reported the depressing reality surrounding wages:

Last year's young college graduates lucky enough to land jobs had an average hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. That's about $35,000 a year - lower than the yearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the Great Recession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, adjusted for inflation.

Reich also highlighted the nation's massive student loan debt:

For many of you, your immediate problem is that pile of debt on your shoulders. In a few moments, when you march out of here, those of you who have taken out college loans will owe more than $25,000 on average. Last year, 10 percent of college grads with loans owed more than $54,000. Your parents have also taken out loans to help you. Loans to parents for the college educations of their children have soared 75 percent since the academic year 2005-06.

Outstanding student debt now totals over $1 trillion. That's more than the nation's total credit card debt.

In 2008, Barack Obama carried 18-29 year-olds by more than 2-1 over John McCain.


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