It took a study by Rutgers academics to remind the media, and perhaps some Americans, that young people with high school educations or less cannot find work. The study was unnecessary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases numbers each month that prove the problem. Last month, 13% of people without high school degrees were out of work. If those marginally employed and those who have dropped out of the workforce are included, the figure is certainly very much higher.
The Rutgers Study — “Left Out. Forgotten? Recent High School Graduates and the Great Recession” — also includes Americans who have received high school degrees. The BLS data show that these young people are not much better off that those who did not get a high school degree at all. So, once again, the study’s results are no revelation.
The major conclusion of the report:
Overall, only 3 in 10 high school graduates are employed full time, compared to college graduates who are employed at nearly twice that rate. For those who graduated high school in 2006, 2007, and 2008 — before the recession — 37% are employed full time, compared to only 16% who graduated during the recession era.
These figures are worse than the BLS ones, but the government numbers, again, do not include those outside the full-time workforce. Another conclusion of the report is that people with low eduction attainment get low-paying jobs, when they get them. A look at government job numbers would have revealed that easily.
The only “original” conclusion of the report is that 79% of young people without strong education backgrounds see their first jobs as “getting by.” Only 17% see their work as a step to a career. Those “careers” will not pay much more than low wages for years. Again, not much of a revelation.
The summary of the findings of the report is not helpful, at least in terms providing a solution for the problem:
There is tremendous pessimism among high school graduates about what the future holds for them. The number expecting their generation to do less well financially than the one before them outnumbers those who expect to do better by a margin of four to one. Most believe they are less prepared than the previous generation to enter the workforce.
There is nothing original or helpful about that, as the problem gets worse and not better.
Douglas A. McIntyre