Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As you head out...  

To a graduation ceremony, try not to think about these troubling trends.

First, the sad job situation.
The research, done at Rutgers University, found that of the kids who've graduated from college since 2006, only 51 percent of them have full-time employment, and eleven percent of them are not working at all. That's bad enough, but when you look at just those people who have graduated since 2009, it gets even worse. Fewer than half of them found a job within a year of graduating; whereas 73 percent of those who graduated between 2006 and 2008 found jobs in the first year. Kids who graduated after 2009 are three times more likely to not have a fulltime job than the kids who finished between 2006 and 2008. Carl Van Horn, one of the study's co-authors, says,
The resilience of this year's and recent college graduates are being tested. Students who graduated during the past several years are facing historic obstacles in achieving the foundations of the American dream.
Well, the idea that they've got to go out there and dream the impossible dream really ought to motivate everyone currently busting ass to finish up school and get out into the "real world." [More][Source study]
But wait - there's more!
The study also determined that of those post-2009 grads who did end up finding full-time employment, 43% have jobs that do not require a college degree, prompting many to agree with their mothers' advice four years ago that you probably shouldn't have wasted four credits on that "Hegelian Dialectics in Buffy the Vampire Slayer" course you took sophomore year. Employed, post-2009 graduates also have an average starting salary of $27,000, $3,000 less than the average starting salary for the classes of 2006 and 2007; experts estimate that given the fragile state of the post-2009 economy, these wages are likely to stay depressed for the next ten or fifteen years. [More]
At the same time, student debt could be the next financial debacle we have to manage.
Over the weekend, the NYT had a great, in-depth look at soaring student debt figures, and the picture is not pretty: over the last decade, tuition and fees at state schools have increased 72%, and public funding per pupil has dropped 24%.
Student loans are now a generational rite of passage – 94% of students borrow to earn a bachelor’s degree, up from 43% in 1993. The total value of student loan debt has passed $1 trillion, up from $852 billion halfway through 2011. As the Federal Reserve shows, it’s not just the young who bear the burden: a third of the value of outstanding student loans is owed by those older than 40.
Congress, for its part, is currently wrangling over a bill that would prevent federally subsidized student loan rates from doubling to 6.8% beginning July 1. Looking at that debate, Will Wilkinson makes the point that interest rate subsidies are just another form of spending that could be better directed at scholarships for students of modest means. And Conor Friedersdorf takes that argument one step further, calling indebted college graduates a “privileged class” on whom spending money “in a country with impoverished immigrants and struggling high school dropouts and hard-pressed single mothers” is pandering at its worst.
While lower interest rates would help, Mark Kantrowitz and Mark Schneider point to students’ bleak income prospects: “Debt is a problem only if students don’t graduate or if graduates can’t get jobs that pay enough to allow them to repay their loans. Taking on $25,000 in student loans to earn an additional $25,000 per year is a good investment; borrowing $100,000 to earn an additional $5,000 per year is not.” Josh Barro also notes that loans are just one way to fund higher education – direct state funding of public universities is the most obvious alternative. [More]
As hard as it is to imagine, perhaps the basic impossibility of these two trends co-existing means college costs may soon have to become subject to ordinary supply-demand economics. One possible outcome would be new rankings from US News and World Report, et al, based on placement - Is our children working? - so to speak.

It is no small coincidence that young people are lined up ten deep waiting to get into farming. Notice how there are precious few articles in the ag media about getting kids back to the farm, just laments about how hard it is to get them started.

It also increases my skepticism that not allowing them to do dangerous work as an employee for another farmer is necessary to lure them back. I can't believe we sold ourselves that whopper to justify our wretched child safety record.

1 comment:

Dave said...

John it isn't really new news that most of us don't all the education we recieved. You are a retired submariner with a wealth of technical education and experience--do you use your education running that farm? I have a MS in Physics and 40 years of experience building submarines; the other week I realized I have forgotten how to do an integral. Can i get it back? Sure but the point is I haven't used it for so long the technique is not on the tip of my tongue.
Jobs UH that's the economy! We get this economy straightened out and you'll see engineers getting hired to develop the advancement. Here's the polictical statement--the debt has to be brought under control if we want the economy to straighten up and this adminstration doesn't seem to understand that!