4 Real Reasons Why The Job Market For Recent College Grads Is So Miserable

by Anne K. Halle

For young adults fresh out of undergraduate programs, salaried, entry-level jobs seem increasingly more difficult to come by — especially if your major wasn’t engineering, finance or accounting.

Generation-Y has produced more young adults who have four-year college degrees than any other previous generation, so competition between graduates is increasing.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, in 2011, the graduation rate for first-time undergraduate students seeking a four-year bachelor’s degree in six years or less was 59 percent.

I’ve talked with friends, professors and other acquaintances about dwindling job prospects for the young, fresh-out-of-school adult. Reasons that may contribute to job scarcity for recent grads include the following:

1. Undergraduates are competing with graduate students for jobs.

As a young adult with only a bachelor’s degree, seeking a job is becoming more difficult because recently graduated master’s students are also on the job hunt.

If an employer has an entry-level position open and must choose between two applicants -- one who has a master’s degree and one who has only a bachelor’s degree -- and both applicants are willing to work for the same wage, the employer is likely to choose the more educated applicant (if all other factors are the same).

Educational level has been called the only legal form of discrimination among some sociologists.

The result of greater job competition and more bachelor’s degrees may cause more and more students to go straight from undergraduate to graduate school to become more qualified upon entering the job market (and in deeper debt).

2. Jobs are outsourced for cheap international labor.

A lot of this applies to service jobs like in telecommunications and factory workers. Large corporations would not be the multinational corporations they are without foreign, cheap labor to assemble the products.

We all know that manufacturing in America has suffered over the past few years and that large corporations will continue to conduct business in the most profitable way possible — often at the expense of not only labor wages abroad, but also cutting out service work in the US.

Unless companies change regulations within themselves or international labor laws are taken more seriously, this will not change.

3. Technology has made work more efficient; thus, one person can handle more duties.

Though we all appreciate how quickly we can complete things with high-speed Internet and apps that make everything simple, technology has cut out some necessity of the labor force.

A position as an editor of a magazine is not nearly as time consuming as it used to be.

Before computers, a journalist would have spent a significant amount of time writing an article, sending it to the printers, having the editor read and correct the print version, then sending it back to make additional edits, reprints, etc.

Nowadays, online tools like Google and Wordpress allow sharing work to be automatic, for example. These tools have streamlined the editing process, as well.

Thus, writers and editors have more time to do other things. One salaried writer can write many articles due to the cutback on editing time.

Companies that publish newsletters, blogs, press releases and articles online are also able to hiring freelance writers, which cuts back the number of salaried writers on staff. This is just one example of how some jobs have become less necessary and more competitive.

4. Employers don’t want to spend the time and the money on training.

We have become not only obsessed with efficiency but also with saving money. Training takes time and money — time is money.

Employers may not be as willing as they used to be to train a new person at entry-level, especially a post-undergraduate student who has minimal experience. I have looked into hundreds of jobs, and have noticed that most jobs require more than two years of experience.

This is also an easy way to cut down the stack of qualified applicants by requiring a certain number of years of experience and special training among applicants for a particular position.

In addition, with a large proportion of unemployed people being older people who have been laid off, there is greater opportunity for employers to seek experienced people for lower compensation.

As we know, finding a job that pays well can be difficult. Basic economics has revealed that there are three types of unemployment that explain the trends: cyclical, structural and frictional.

When GDP growth rate is small or negative, unemployment is high. So, as the US continues to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, in which we saw negative GDP growth rates, unemployment rates are also working to level off.

We may be seeing a shift in employment that is not easy to understand given current economic models, which do not often take into account other factors like technological improvements and shifts in human interest.

The complexities of the economy should not be underestimated as we try to figure out why recent graduates often have trouble finding jobs.

Societies change just as their economic systems do. In times when more and more people may potentially be out of work due to a multitude of factors that cut down the demand for labor, we must think of creative ways to make ends meet.

The survival of recent grads to land well-paid jobs may continue to rely more on creativity in creating their own paid positions.

As Generation-Y seeks to thrive on our passions rather than simply on jobs that make us the most money, we should seize the challenge posed by job scarcity to turn it into an opportunity to create our own jobs to make our lives as fulfilling as possible.

Photo credit: Showtime/Shameless