Clinton Labor Sec. Tells Grads: ‘You’re Screwed’

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 itto you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you’repicking 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. Thejob market you’re heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of thegraduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Mostare still looking.

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

Contrast this with the class of 2008, whose members were lucky enoughto get out of here and into the job market before the Great Recessionreally 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 anaverage hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by theEconomic Policy Institute. That’s about $35,000 a year – lower than theyearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the GreatRecession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6percent 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 yourshoulders. In a few moments, when you march out of here, those of youwho 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 toparents for the college educations of their children have soared 75percent 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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