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Half of all US college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, study says

April 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Students typically enter college optimistic about their future. But these days, many of them are leaving much less hopeful. A new Associated Press study found that half of all recent graduates are under-employed or can't find work at all.

According to the study, which analyzed government data, those with degrees in zoology, anthropology and the humanities had the hardest time finding jobs in their fields. Those with degrees in nursing, teaching, accounting and computer science, had the most success.

The study says about 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed last year. That's an 11-year high. Most jobs went to people at the top or bottom of the wage scale, at the expense of middle income jobs.

"I've had a couple of friends in that situation," said Jerrid McKenna, a college senior. "They're kind of depressed. They couldn't find jobs, working at gas stations, working at fast food places. It's like, I've spent four years, a bunch of money, $20,000 in debt on student loans, and now they're working $10 an hour."

Some students at California State University at Northridge say success is all about hard work and character, not discouraging labor statistics.

"You won't make it if you don't work hard and put your mind in everything you do - every little thing," said Cieana Stinson, a freshman. "I think I'm going to be doing just fine."

The figures are based on an analysis of 2011 Current Population Survey data by Northeastern University researchers and supplemented with material from Paul Harrington, an economist at Drexel University, and the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. They rely on Labor Department assessments of the level of education required to do the job in 900-plus U.S. occupations, which were used to calculate the shares of young adults with bachelor's degrees who were "underemployed."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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