Not Part of the Recovery: High School Graduates
Policy + Politics

Not Part of the Recovery: High School Graduates

REUTERS?Mike Segar

The Friday jobs report should give every high school graduate a reason to pursue higher education.

Of course, there are student loans, questions about quality teaching, and an uncertain future even after obtaining a degree. But the alternative is economic oblivion.

Tony Fratto, a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies who served in George W. Bush’s administration, examined how the recovery has played out based on educational achievement following the April numbers that showed a slight drop in the unemployment rate to 7.5 percent.

Over the past twelve months, almost 1.5 million Americans with a college degree found a new job. Among college dropouts, 555,000 landed on a corporate payroll.

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But the economy shed 315,000 jobs that belonged to high school graduates. For those who never even graduated from high school, the losses were 227,000.

So in the middle of a recovery with Growth Domestic Product averaging about 2 percent, anyone without some college experience is out of luck. This isn’t just about the disappearance of low-skilled careers, but college graduates supplanting workers in jobs that once only required a high school degree.

The progressive Economic Policy Institute released a report in April about the prospects for the class of 2013. It found that the unemployment rate for recent high school graduates was 29.9 percent, compared to 8.8 percent for those with college degrees.

“The large increase since 2007 in the unemployment and underemployment rate of young college graduates, and in the share of employed young college graduates working in jobs that do not require a college degree, underscores that today’s unemployment crisis among young workers did not arise because these young adults lack the right education or skills,” the report said. “Rather, it stems from weak demand for goods and services, which makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring.”