44% of Young College Graduates Are On the Wrong Career Path


Youth unemployment and underemployment are two big issues that recent college graduates are dealing with not only in the U.S., but everywhere in the world. Yet, the former is more known to many than the latter. In the U.S., both unemployment and underemployment stand at a close percentage claim of recent college graduate. So, what is the difference between the two and what is the problem here?

The global job market doesn't look bright with the 4.2% recent increase in 2012 to over 197 million (5.9%) unemployed worldwide. Youth are the main demographic group hit hard by the recess in the last five years with more than 74 million unemployed youth in the world. Youth unemployment, especially those between 15 and 24, constitute 12.6% of the global unemployment rate. This number of global unemployed is set on the rise in the next five years averaging 211 million in 2017. Pretty serious, isn't it?

Now, you might think that 211 million isn't too much after all while we count 7 billion people in the world. Well, governments lie about their unemployment rates and many others exploit their unemployment statistics heavily to spare themselves another Arab Spring. China and India reported their unemployment rates in July and September this year at 4.7% and 4.3% respectively. These rates are equal approximately to 5.8 million, each, of Indians and Chinese (citizens). Is this real? Seriously, I doubt it.

Actually, unemployment isn’t just your biggest challenge after you get out of college. Underemployment is.

As of 2012, 44% of young college graduates in the U.S. are underemployed, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Underemployment means that you will accept a barista job at your suburban coffee shop to pay the bills while you have just graduated cum laude with a philosophy degree, and with $40,000 already in outstanding debts. As of last July, 17.2% of the workforce in the U.S. are underemployed. The graph below sums it better.

In the third world, underemployment is simply the reality of things. With politically-biased labor unions driving unemployment high and wages down in many countries, millennials in the third world can only hope to immigrate to Europe and the U.S. to get what their degrees are worth of. But, that’s another tricky subject. 

Unfortunately, the reality in the U.S. is not any better than any other country in Europe in unemployment crisis or debt such as Spain or Greece or any other post-Arab Spring country in the Middle East. Want proof? The U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report unemployment to be at 45% among the more recent university graduates. 

These numbers look pretty darn, but can we make a choice about it? Is it better to stay unemployed or should you present yourself the next time your local sports bar is looking for a new bartender? 

This is such a tough question, but I if a were to choose, my decision would be unemployment over underemployment.

Here are my arguments:

Most importantly, I think it is opportunity cost. Your opportunity cost is just higher when you're busy away throughout the day or the night working at a meaningless job (or at least not so meaningful to you) and thus taking less time  to actually look for the job that you desire. You could, however, use that time to add to your professional skills, look out more for job posts and actually go to more fairs and networking events. Is your full-time or part-time minimum wage job worth it?

But then again, this is a really tough question.