Class of 2024, It’s Not in Your Head: The Job Market Is Tough

Here is a brutal fact for the college class of 2024: There aren’t enough college-level jobs out there for all of you. Some of you will snag them. Others will have to settle for jobs that don’t require a college education. And history shows that many of those who start out in a job that doesn’t require a college education are still toiling in that kind of job a decade later.

One mystery is why college grads’ lifetime earnings are so much higher than those of people with just a high school degree or less, if indeed so many college grads don’t do college-graduate-level work. I’ll get to that in a minute. I’ll also finish on a slightly hopeful note.

I invite college seniors to tell me about your job searches and how you feel about what you learned or wish you had learned in college by filling out the form below. Parents andemployers are also welcome to write in. (And forward it to others who you think would be interested in contributing by using the gift link in the article’s share tools.) I hope to feature some of your responses in a future newsletter.

Fifty-two percent of college grads are underemployed a year after graduation, meaning they are working in jobs that don’t require the degrees they earned, according to a February report by the Burning Glass Institute, which analyzes the job market, and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work.

Five years out from school, about 88 percent of those who are underemployed are “severely” underemployed, the report said. These are the top five jobs they’re doing: information and record clerk, supervisor of sales, retail sales worker, sales representative in services, and secretary and administrative assistant.

“Even a decade after graduation, 45 percent of graduates are underemployed,” the report said.

The best way to avoid underemployment is to pick a major that employers want and to complete an internship, Burning Glass found. If you didn’t do those things and you’re a few weeks from commencement without a job lined up … um, potentially not good.

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