Young Americans graduating from college are facing the grimmest job prospects in more than ten years. According to an analysis of a 2011 Current Population Survey data, roughly 1.5 million, or 53.6 %, of new graduates under 25 last year were jobless or underemployed. In 2000, that statistic was 41%.
Many mid-level jobs have been eliminated, and the jobs that will be available in the near-future are in lower-skilled positions. The worst unemployment figures came from the Mountain West, where 3 out of every 5 graduates couldn’t find work. The best place to find work, predictably enough, was in Rick Perry’s Texas. Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.
The figures show that the majority of jobs available to graduates required nothing greater than a high school diploma. Jobs such as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, receptionists or and retail clerks outnumbered higher-skilled jobs like engineers, physicists, chemists, mathematicians and computer professionals by more than 25%. The graduates that faced the bleakest job prospects were those in the fields of the humanities and anthropology. Complicating the picture are the immigrants from other countries who are well-educated as well as the plethora of graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
All of this bad news for the 18-25 year-old age group is an opportunity for the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. Recent polls show the American public trusts him more on the economy than Barack Obama, and if Romney can appeal to young voters based on their current job travails, he may be able to win the youth vote to his side.