Economic Snapshot

The Weak Economy Is Idling Too Many Recent Graduates

Across the country, millions of students are gearing up for graduation and will begin focusing on their career goals. Two key paths young graduates can take to continue preparing for their careers are to get a job, or to enroll in further schooling. In this recovery, both of those paths have been blocked for many young workers. There has been a large increase in the share of young high school and college graduates who are idled—neither employed nor enrolled in school—by the weak economy. The share of recent high school graduates (age 17-20) who are neither employed nor enrolled in college increased from 13.7 percent in 2007 to 17.7 percent in 2010 and has made no sustained improvement since that time. The share of recent college graduates (age 21-24) who are neither employed nor enrolled in further schooling increased from 8.4 percent in 2007 to 11.6 percent in 2011, and has improved only modestly since then, to 11.2 percent. These high rates of idleness of both recent high school and recent college graduates represent an enormous loss of opportunities for these young graduates that will have lasting consequences on their careers.

Tomorrow, EPI will release The Class of 2014: The Weak Economy Is Idling Too Many Young Graduates, which examines the labor market conditions new graduates—specifically high school graduates age 17-20 and college age 21-24—will confront. In the report, we also reveal the number of “missing” young workers—potential workers who are neither employed nor actively seeking work because job opportunities remain so scarce—assess the claim that young adults have been able to shelter in school, and detail the long-term scarring effects of entering such a weak labor market. We will distill the report’s findings in a press call at 12:00 p.m. ET. To RSVP for the call, click here or email


See more work by Will Kimball, Alyssa Davis, and Heidi Shierholz