Economic Snapshot | Trade and Globalization

Job prospects dim for new high school graduates

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Snapshot for June 9, 2004.

This Snapshot is a sneak preview of information compiled in the forthcoming EPI book The State of Working America 2004/2005.

Job prospects dim for new high school graduates

As high school graduations take place around the country, it is timely to examine how young high school graduates are faring in the job market. From 1979 to 2003, the inflation-adjusted hourly wages earned by recent high school graduates (one to five years past graduation) have fallen by 17.4% among men and by 4.9% among women. Thus, the quality of jobs available to recent high school graduates has deteriorated remarkably over the last few decades.

Erosion of employer-provided health and pension coverage for recent high school graduates, 1979-2002

A further indication of the erosion of quality work opportunities for new high school graduates is the dramatic decline in the share of jobs for which employers provide health insurance or pensions (see figure). Employer-provided health insurance among recent high school graduates in their “entry-level jobs” fell from 63.3% in 1979 to roughly half that many, 34.7%, in 2002 (the latest data). Pension coverage fell over this period as well, from the low level of 36.0% in 1979 to an even lower 20.1% in 2002.

This Snapshot was written by EPI President Lawrence Mishel.

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