May 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Job Markets - Obamic Optimists vs. Responsible Realists

Hatched by Dafydd

According to the Associated Press, the job market this year for recent college graduates is simply booming! Clearly, the economic policies of President Barack "Big Stick" Obama are finally succeeding, and only a lunatic would even consider ousting him in favor of that dour economic fool and former high-school tormentor and bully, Mitt Romney:

The class of 2012 is leaving college with something that many graduates since the start of the Great Recession have lacked: jobs.

To the relief of graduating seniors - and their anxious parents - the outlook is brighter than it has been in four years. Campus job fairs were packed this spring and more companies are hiring. Students aren't just finding good opportunities, some are weighing multiple offers....

On campuses across the country, spirits are more upbeat this spring, and the employment outlook is especially promising, according to interviews with three dozen seniors and career center directors.

"It's just been such a dramatic change from what we saw in 2008," says Mercy Eyadiel, who oversees career development at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Back then, openings disappeared overnight and companies were calling recent graduates to rescind offers. "It was a very bad, ugly situation."

Darn that George W. Bush!

On the other hand, according to the Associated Press, the job market this year for recent college graduates is still horrific, with more than 50% unemployed or underemployed; for the latter, although they are technically employed, it's not in a job that takes advantage of their degree, nor are they making anywhere near as much in constant dollars as recent graduates did a decade ago. Clearly, the economic policies of the Big Stick are failing miserably; only a lunatic would consider giving him another four years in which to muck up the economy so badly, we might never recover:

The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans....

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.

Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.

Darn that Barack H. Obama!

Alas for Obama's Happy-Pill Warriors, a recent study at Rutgers University comes down decisively on the more pessimistic side of this epic AP on AP battle:

Just half of the college students who graduated during the Great Recession and its aftermath currently have full-time jobs, a new report says.

The survey, called "Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession" and conducted by Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, spoke to 444 people who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011.

Fifty-one percent of respondents had full-time jobs, the survey found, and 20 percent were in graduate school. Part-time workers made up 12 percent, while 11 percent were unemployed.

Of those employed, 36 percent say their current job is just to get by, while 30 percent are on their career path. The median starting salary for the whole group is $28,000, though those graduating from 2009 to 2011 made $3,000 less on average than their pre-recession counterparts.

Student loan debt in 2010 exceeded the amount that Americans owed on credit cards, topping $1 trillion, the report said. Nearly six in 10 students surveyed borrowed from a government program or private banking institution, and the median debt was $20,000 -- enough to force more than a quarter of respondents to live with their parents or relatives.


Progressivists will note that this study ran from 2009 to 2011, while the first AP story is talking about this year's graduates, as if that makes all the difference. Obamunism is roaring!

Is it possible there has been a huge but hitherto undetected surge in employment prospects for the class of 2012? It's hard to tell: First, such crosstabs, as they're called in the biz, aren't usually available until months after the original Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey; and second, the class of 2012 hasn't even graduated yet.

However, we can take a look at some proxy measurements from the BLS. Consider table 10 (unpublished) by the BLS, quoted by Curran Career Consulting:

Unemployment rate for bachelors’ degree college graduates under the age of 25 was 6.4% in April, 2012 vs. 6.7% in April, 2011 vs. 7.5% in April, 2010 vs. 6.1% in April, 2009 vs. 3% in April, 2008, a 113% increase over the past four years.

That would be a 113% increase in unemployment among recent grads from the end of the Bush administration to what we all hope is the end of the Obama administration. So Mercy Eyadiel in the first quote above is correct: It certainly is "such a dramatic change from what we saw in 2008;" the 2012 college graduate unemployment rate is double what it was back then!

So yes, the job market is not quite as dismal as it was in the depths of the Obama recession; on the other hand, unemployment among recent college graduates is still, as of last month, more than twice the rate it was in 2008, Bush's last year in office.

The discrepency in reporting almost makes me think AP has gone into full campaign mode.

Too, much of the recent "drop" in overall unemployment has been caused, not by an improving job market, but rather by more workers becoming discouraged and exiting the job market (which removes them from the official unemployment statistics), as even the Obama administration is forced to admit. Among recent college graduates, we see a corresponding behavior pattern:

  • Graduate;
  • Hunt for job;
  • Fail to find anything better than grocery-store bagger or waiter;
  • Make courageous decision to head back into university for graduate degree;
  • ...While Mom and Dad pay for it all. (It's a more dignified version of moving back home.)

This has the same effect as older workers becoming discouraged and ceasing to look for work; it takes them out of the category of unemployed or underemployed, even if their major is one that won't be marketable even with a PhD. It's not that there are more people working, it's just that the labor pool is now smaller than before. But the unemployment rate drops, giving Team Forward a nice talking point for the reelection; and after all, that's what really counts.

The AP "happytalk" story doesn't even address the situation of "desperation grad-school," nor the chronic underemployment and mounting indebtedness of our recent graduates; those points do not constitute the story they want to tell. So expect months more of "it's morning in America!" ads... at least until Wednesday, November 7th, when reporting abruptly becomes more responsible, as they no longer have anything important to lose, like an election.

(The antique media no longer attaches any importance to "credibility," so that loss doesn't count.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 13, 2012, at the time of 3:59 PM


The following hissed in response by: seePea

hmm, which

Campus Job Fairs are packed
? It might well be that there are certain areas of degreed education where there are takers but , at least in the PacNW, not for everyone. I also note that there is no mention of what type of salaries are being offered.

As to conflicting AP stories - I actually understand that happening. The AP can't have an editor checking each story to see if there contradictions. The number of stories and where the stories are originating would be overwhelming to do so. The editors that pick up the AP stories should notice if 2 chosen stories conflict. It might be that they don't conflict (different people, time frame , region, etc) but the editors should know and make the needed edits.

The above hissed in response by: seePea [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 13, 2012 8:25 PM

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