Economic snapshot | Economic Growth

Trading test anxiety for job market jitters

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The class of 2010 will enter a labor market that has not only the highest rate of unemployment in a generation, but also an unusually high rate of joblessness for recent college graduates. The Figure, taken from EPI’s new paper, The Class of 2010, tracks the rate of unemployment among recent college graduates under the age of 25 since 1985. The current unemployment rate of 9.0% for this group is higher than any time over the past 35 years. Unemployment among recent college graduates also rose during past two “jobless” recoveries, but not nearly so much as now. In 1992, this group’s unemployment rate rose to 6.9%; In June of 2003, it peaked at 6.4%.

The Class of 2010 paper outlines several damaging consequences of high rates of joblessness among people who have recently graduated from college. Many of these young adults who encounter hard economic times will fall through the public safety net since in most states eligibility for unemployment insurance is contingent on having a recent work history. Research has also shown that graduating during a recession can limit an individual’s lifelong earnings potential.