Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Old and Uneducated Finding More Jobs Than the Young and Educated. What Does It Mean?

Yesterday, Angel laid out the cold hard facts about the depression and the unemployment statistics for young people. In case you missed it, here is the chart again before I present more depressing employment figures.Over 50 percent of youth are unemployed, underemployed, or working part time. That doesn't include some of us over educated people working in full-time jobs that only pay $10 an hour. This is a catastrophe. We are the damned generation: no jobs, no savings, no future, an unprecedented student loan debt crisis, and probably no social security and medicare by the time we reach our parents' age.

I have more bad news that probably won't surprise most BIDER readers but will at least shut up the shills who come here and try to tell us that college educated youth are doing a-okay at only 4 percent unemployment. I came across job data at the Center for Economic and Policy Research that shows African Americans and the college educated hit especially hard by job losses. Again, not surprising but here is the proof (emphasis mine):
African Americans were also hit especially hard. The EPOP for African Americans is back at its low point for the downturn and the EPOP for African American women hit a new low at 54.4 percent, 0.1 percentage points lower than the December ratio.

By education level, the less educated appear to be the big gainers, with a 1.8 percentage-point increase in the EPOP for those without a high school degree. Those with some college had a 0.8 percentage-point decline in their EPOP and those with college degrees had a 1.1 percentage-point drop to 72.7 percent, the lowest level of the downturn.

By age group, the big gainers continued to be the over-55 cohort, which added 54,000 jobs in July, bringing the 3-month gain to 182,000. Older women accounted for 167,000 of this rise in employment. By contrast, employment for women between the ages of 35-44 fell by 253,000 (1.8%) and for women between 45-54 by 186,000 (1.2%) since May.
There were substantial declines in all the measures of duration of unemployment. This likely reflects many long-term unemployed dropping out of the workforce after losing benefits. The percent of multiple jobholders dropped by 0.3 percentage points to the lowest on record. This presumably reflects difficulty in getting jobs.
Let me first say it amazes me that Washington does not seem to care enough to make drastic changes to stop the bleeding given that the current administration got into office riding on a huge wave of support from the young and minorities. The 22-year-old who voted in 2008 won't be the same voter in 2012 as a 26-year-old welfare recipient still unemployed four years after graduating from college with $100k loans. We are going to see that affect on the electorate in 2010 and 2012.

This doesn't mean life is good for the old and the uneducated, far from it, but it does point to a lack of real jobs with good wages and benefits being created. What kind of jobs do you think older women and high school drop outs are getting in this economy? Likely retail and restaurant work and a few manufacturing jobs that the majority of our college educated readership are considered overqualified for.

No one other than the political elite and the CEOs are coming out winners in this depression, but at least the uneducated have a better chance at the few service sector and manufacturing jobs. When there are no jobs, you have educated people willing to take practically anything for extra money to stay afloat even if it means driving a taxi or working at the shopping mall or grocery store.

Unfortunately for the damned generation, being educated is a curse because not only do you have student loans, you will be passed over for the less educated candidate for most of the new jobs created. Nearly every job I hear about on the local news is in the manufacturing or service industry. What are the chances that a 20-something female with a college degree and JD such as myself will get one of these $10-20/hour jobs over the recently laid off man with 20 years of experience on the factory line? Slim to none. That means the person with the $15 hourly job is still doing better, however small, than the unemployed JD or PhD making nothing to pay the rent and buy groceries.

In the end it is all about just hustling to survive and the 18 to 29 educated crowd clearly isn't doing well in that area. For example, I am single and have a current net worth of zero while the neighbor who bypassed college to get a masseuse certificate just bought a new house with her husband and has no student debt. Remind me again why I worked my ass off to get into the best schools?


  1. "No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically." - Isaac Asimov

    Some time ago, I realized that my generation was going to be a lot more like my grandparent's generation than the baby boomers. For example, none of my grandparents had a college education--let alone a graduate degree or doctorate. My grandfather grew up in the dustbowl and worked as a carpenter's assistant starting at age 12 just to help the family put food on the table. He told me his Christmas present one year was an orange. It was one of the reasons he signed up when he was still underage to fight in WWII-just the chance of having 3 square meals a day.

    My grandmother's parents were both widows-their former spouses having died in the Spanish Flu during WWI. She said she never had to worry about starvation during the Depression because her father was a farmer (although they had a much different diet--meat was unknown but for when they could barter with people they knew). She remembers how many of her neighbors would have starved if her father hadn't helped out when he could & how bad it was in the cities the few times she made trips as a child. Having children her own age beg her for food. We're becoming a 2nd or 3rd world country again.

    The only real difference between the 1930s and the 2010s is that we have a better veneer masking the actual situation than they did 80 years ago.

  2. Stop feeling entitled to a job. That's the problem with kids today. Stop whining and go network.

    When my generation went through the oil crisis, we rolled up our sleeves and didn't ask anyone for a handout.

  3. You are an idiot, anon. If you actually read my post or the news for that matter, you'd realize there are no jobs for anyone to "roll up their sleeves". Give me a fucking break. A job isn't a handout, and yes, everyone is entitled to a job to survive and provide for their family. Go to hell.

  4. I swear.. I think the only thing would make shills stop saying that "we feel entitled" is if we remained mum about what was happening around us, to us, against us, etc. Just because we voice our opinions and note our observations, doesn't mean we're waiting for a handout. Maybe you have HK and us confused with some other blogger... we are actually doing what we have to do to survive. I'm not sitting on my ass getting shit from anyone. I have rolled up my sleeves... should I shut up now and leave all of the law grads who are up to their necks in debt with not a clue what to do to sit on their asses and spin.
    Look.... we have a right to voice our concerns. If you read carefully, and not just to criticize and regurgitate sayings like "roll up your sleeves" and "pull yourself up by your boot straps".. then you would see that we offer advice to our readers, as well as understanding. You should roll up your sleeve, man... baby boomer.

  5. Sorry.. I would have done a better job spell checking that if I wasn't hacking up my lung.

  6. Hey anon, pay more taxes to fund our educations like your parents did for yours. Oh we would also like jobs straight out of school with zero experience like you were able to get. xoxo tyia

  7. To anonymous at 12:30am-

    Stop feeling entitled to retirement. I work full time (as well as I can) as a doc reviewer and adjunct on the side.

    I know as a gen-x er that I'll work until I die.

  8. Your generation is screwed.

  9. What a sense of entitlement, expecting that spending 6 figures and passing a bar exam should lead to an actual job.

    I assume that was sarcasm, or a Law School CSO poster.

    This country simply WILL NOT survive if it makes no effort to employ recent graduates. Absolutely no question about that. If you don't give jobs to the younger generation, they will catch on and just not work. An entire generation of people not working destroys the consumer market and capitalistic scheme. The younger generation blow most of their salaries on consumer goods. They drive the economy. Taking that money and giving it to student loan companies, or taking it out entirely, simply drives the US back to reality. Also without that tax money, the government is forced to shrink.

  10. "... the neighbor who bypassed college to get a masseuse certificate just bought a new house with her husband and has no student debt. Remind me again why I worked my ass off to get into the best schools?"

    I know - it's a rhetorical question, but I'm going to comment anyway. Tell me - did you want to be a masseuse? Or a carpenter? Or an AA in a medical office? Because if you did, then law school was a bizarre choice.

    But if you wanted to, I dunno ... practice law, perhaps, then it made sense. Presumably, even if you weren't one of those "I've always loved the law and always wanted to be a lawyer" types, you wanted a profession rather than a job and you wanted work that would challenge you.

    I see a lot of scamblog posts that make observations similar to yours - everyone knows some guy with no BA who's making $50K or whatever. But if you didn't really want to be a masseuse or a plumber, then your real complaint seems to be, "Damn, I wish all I wanted out of life was a 9-5 job that didn't require anything but a high school diploma."

    But apparently that wasn't the case, so the comparison with the masseuses and electricians and truck drivers really doesn't mean much.

  11. anon @ 1:37pm: I pointed out before that most people, especially people from working class backgrounds, go to college and graduate school for a better life. Those of us who were ambitious and good students were told that going to college was the golden ticket to a comfortable lifestyle and a white collar job.

    The irony here is that in many cases the high school dropout is living a better life than the unemployed and overqualified Ivy League graduate or JD.

    Everyone would prefer to do something they love but most will never get to. Ultimately what matters for those of us who will never become President of the United States, a biglaw partner, or corporate CEO is that we have enough to save for retirement, buy a home, and take care of a family.

    Right now, the employed masseuse and plumber is ahead in that game over the college or law school graduate with $200k in student debt and no job prospects. So I think the comparison between the unemployed graduate and the $50k masseuse with no student debt is a valid point to be made for the lemmings out there who think a degree is worth the $100-200k investment.

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  13. anon @ 4:29: I'm assuming you're the same jackass who posted at 12:30am about entitlement. Don't come back to this blog if you have a problem with our posts because I'll just delete your comments from now on. You are delusional. A college degree for Baby Boomers was much more affordable and promised more than it does today. This has nothing to do with jealousy or envy. It's about the tuition scam and paying thousands and getting nothing more than what you could have had before going to law school. And if you even took the time to read Angel's last post, her example of her neighbor driving a Z was not out of jealousy. It was to point out that the owner of the Z was clueless about his job prospects after graduate school that he could blow money on an expensive car rather than saving it for a rainy day.

  14. First of all, sorry to be a numbers nazi, but that chart you posted doesn't say that 50% of youth are unemployed, part-time, or underemployed. It says 11.8% are unemployed, 16.6% are part-time, for a total of 28.4% that are considered underemployed (which is combo of either unemployed or part-time.) It appears to me as if you just added to three to get a number above 50.

    Secondly, people back various inconsistent (and often contradictory) opinions with statistics all the time. To the point where I'm not even sure what to trust anymore. If you frequent the NYTimes boards, you'll see tons and tons of 50 yr olds complain that they got laid off and they can't get jobs because managers prefer younger applicants. Then, of course, the random rant about ageism and unfairness and health costs and whatever. But a handful actually manage to post stats from the govt to back them up. I'm so totally confused I don't even know what's real anymore, sadly.

    Thirdly, while those with less education may have been big gainers, it matters where the start off point was. Those with less education 1.8 percentage points and those with bachelor's lost 1.1 percentage points. fine. But if the first groups started off at like 70 and the second ground started off at like 82, then the second group is still noticeably better off.

  15. The problem is that the cost of a college education has skyrocketed, yet the actual benefits of a degree have not. Why is it surprising that expectations have increased along with the price? If I'm paying 400% more for an education than I would have paid 15 years ago, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect a somewhat comparable increase in the benefit of that education? Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and unlike other debt, college tuition can't be discharged in bankruptcy, so this generation of graduates has basically thrown themselves into debt-slavery. At the very least, the law needs to be changed retroactively to allow these enormous predatory debts to be discharged.

  16. The law shouldn't be changed to allow debts to be discharged. I have debt as well but society cannot just change laws because people want it do benefit their personal situation. I disagree with finanical bailouts, bank bailouts, housing credits, etc. It sets a bad precent to just abrogate a loan contract of agreement because the situation didn't work out. You cannot have any lending standards if contracts can just be ripped up and debts washed away under political pressure. The problem with college tuition today is mostly at the state college level. Taxpayers need to pressure the colleges that their taxes pay for to lower tuition for in-state students.

  17. Bankruptcy is in existence to punish both borrowers and lenders for making unsound decisions. If I declare bankruptcy, my credit is trashed for 7 years. If a lender knows that making a bad decision might cause his loan to wiped out, perhaps they'll think a little harder before lending out money to people who can't afford it. That's how bubbles get created.

  18. Bankruptcy might be a legitimate option. That's not what a lot of people are asking for though. Most people with a lot of student loan debt simply want it retroactively forgiven and for the government to write if off. I see this line of reasoning quite often on student loan blogs. How is that fair to people who were responsible and didn't go to college because they couldn't afford the loans? Or someone who went to a school with inferior academic programs because they couldn't afford the high ranked, more expensive schools? It's not really fair to retroactively wipe out people's debts so that they can be consumers again and get a product they took a loan for without the cost.

  19. Some of you just don't get it. Writing off an entire generation does not in any way help anybody. If we don't pay, what should happen is that these lenders go under. That is what is fair.

    If I invest in a company, if I made a bad decision, and that company goes under, I lose my money. If I am a creditor to that company, and they go under, I can get in line and get a piece of it when it goes under, but that's it. I can't go after the individuals that ran the company. I can't sell my rights to my investment or credits through a chain of other people without going through formal avenues (and even then it's usually not possible).

    Student loans work differently than other debts. Before going to law school I paid a lot in taxes and social security and everything else. My father pays a ton in taxes now, so much so that he barely has any money left over despite earning 6 figures. How is it fair to him that more than half of his money is stolen by the government and then used for god knows what?

    Why is it that it's okay for corporations to get bailouts, lucrative government contracts, and government incentives to do business? But somehow it's just completely out of the question that a loan company should be allowed to fail because they made bad decisions in lending?

    Why should one mistake haunt someone for the rest of their lives? Bankruptcy is supposed to be there to prevent us from essentially having situations like bookies coming and breaking your kneecaps because you can't pay a debt. But for many young graduates they are hounded by these people and have no way out.

    It's really just not right. It's pathetic that there are apologists for this, and they dare to use the word "fairness" when advocating that students be screwed over.

    Where is the money going to come for for this phantom economic recovery if a huge chunk of the younger generation has to be screwed over? I don't know that America can survive with the way things are now, unless there are changes. If nothing changes, a lot of us will either not try or will get out of this country. How is that a positive result for any taxpayer or citizen of this country?

  20. The inability to pay a personal debt should be reviewed on case-by-case approach. Factors such as restricitng an employment search to a narrow geographic region is a personal decision that may effect the ability to repay a personal loan. Unemployment stats vary by locality. If one is not willing to move away from friends and family in pursuit of opportunity can they truly claim that they have exhausted all their remedies. That said, I do think that the abysmal debt that students face requires action.

  21. In case you haven't noticed, the recession is in all fifty states, and the legal depression is also in all fifty states. The only place it's "booming" is India, and India won't let us in. What are you going to do, prove that I looked for jobs in all fifty states, and say "aha! You didn't apply to anything in Vermont!" Or perhaps let's do it by county next. "Hey you missed Loving County, Texas." I'm sure the 67 total residents there need a fifth lawyer, right?

  22. Because moving across the country for a $10/hr job is feasible. Or worse yet, moving for one of those "work for free" with 1 year commitment jobs that pop up.

    Not that as attorneys you'd be qualified for those, since you need to pass a separate bar exam.

    Even with nation wide searches getting a job that pays enough to actually move and pay rent is not an easy affair.

  23. I turned down a low-wage internship earlier this year. It was difficult for me to choose to stay home in Podunk over moving to a bigger city to work a 40 hour week internship. The internship would have forced me to live in poverty and probably use up my savings along with borrow money from my parents. It turned out to be the right choice because something slightly better came along soon after, but it is unfeasible to expect a recent graduate with no money to take a low wage job or internship far from their parents' house where they'd be able to live for free. It is also very difficult to find a job out of state in this economy. Why would an employer pay for your travel expenses for a face to face interview when they have thousands of local applicants vying for the same job? It rarely happens and that is a major obstacle for graduates living at home in a rural or economically depressed town rather than in Chicago or NYC where you can easily go into the city everyday for an interview or to drop off your resume.

  24. In law there is (unfortunately for society) one field w/ an almost limitless supply of clients. Since Gideon, mandatatory representation for indigent criminal defendants has over-burdened the system.

    Have you ever noticed that many defendants get busted in pairs of two or more (think gang bangers). No public defender department or legal aid organization can represent multiple defendants stemming from the same incident. It is a conflict of interest.

    Thousands of these cases across the nation must be conflicted out to contract attorneys. Additionally, due to overwhelming caseloads cases must be contracted out to handle the excess volume.

    If you want to practice law and get paid--run a search to determine where contracts are available. Intern w/ the public defender dept for a few months until you know how to pick a jury, try a case and negotiate a plea. Prepare for the local bar when doing this.

    When ready, apply for one or two contracts, such as a midemeanor, juvenile or felony contract. From these contracts (averaging perhaps 6-12 cases per month) you should earn around 50-60K.

    These contracts are available all over the nation. Even a tiny relatively low crime state like Vermont has one available now. This is an example about how to broaden your opportunities.

    Attorneys Wanted
    Public Defense and Assigned Counsel Contract Positions

    The Office of the Defender General is searching for attorneys to provide Public Defense and Assigned Counsel services under contract throughout the State of Vermont for Fiscal Year 2011, commencing July 1. These legal services are available to indigent defendants charged with crimes with the possibility of jail, to parties in juvenile proceedings in Family Court, in appellate cases before the Vermont Supreme Court, and in post-conviction relief cases. Available contracts include:

    Public Defense caseload relief services in the northern part of the state.
    Public Defense Serious Felony Unit services.
    Public Defense appellate services.
    Assigned counsel services in all counties throughout the state. Assigned counsel contractors provide quality legal services to persons entitled to be represented by a public defender, in cases in which the public defender in the county has a conflict of interest. These contracts range from a very small caseload in only criminal or juvenile cases, to full-time contracts covering both caseloads.
    Assigned Counsel appellate services.
    Assigned Counsel post-conviction relief services.
    Assigned Counsel Coordinator.
    Serious Felony Unit services with each unit covering several counties.

    Qualifications for public defense and assigned counsel contracts are current admission to the Vermont Bar, handicap accessibility to the practice, and a demonstrated ability to provide high quality representation with an emphasis on trial practice and courtroom skills while managing a heavy caseload. The contracts provide for a monthly payment based on historical caseload.

    For further information, including current rates of compensation and caseload statistics, please contact the Office of the Defender General (802-828-3160), or The Office of the Defender General is an equal opportunity employer.

    Send resume and cover letter to:

    Matthew Valerio, Defender General
    Office of the Defender General
    6 Baldwin Street, 4th Floor
    Montpelier, VT 05633-3301
    or e-mail to


  25. Anyone in NJ who is jobless and wants to do something interesting should contact me. I own a real estate company that does short sales and other types of loss mitigation. You get to stick it to banks, the money is good (and, it's the banks who pay you!) and you can work your own hours.

    It's not rocket science, as anyone with an IQ above 90 and three weeks to kill can get a NJ real estate license. However, it's fun in weird sort of "stick it to the man" way.

    Chip Hughes, Hills & Valley Real Estate: (908) 334-2329 or

  26. Anon at 5:23 AM.
    Real Estate market is garbage at the moment, it is LARGELY what caused the depression in the first place.

    As for the topic. I'm now just about to graduate college with a BS and am VERY happy I picked a science. The job market for engineers wasn't untouched, but the opportunities are still there. So for those reading this blog and considering what they should do, look into engineering. Moreover, if you can, look into a difficult engineering field. Something like chemical engineering or electrical engineering has a fairly intense curriculum, because of this there are few people willing to go through with it. Thus, the market is not saturated, and may never be.

    Something like a computer engineer gives you varied job opportunities as an electrical engineer, computer engineer, or a programmer.

    Just some things to consider

  27. Maybe the folks here who have $200,000 in students loans should have looked more carefully at the statistics of how many lawyers are practicing and how many law students there are across the country before indulging themselves in something where the market is clearly over saturated. As an uneducated father of two children in college, even I know that it takes more than just a piece of paper saying you have a law degree. A near perfect GPA and BAR exam score as well as having a personality and common sense among other attributes would put you in the top 5% which would have set you apart from all the other book smart dopes who did the same thing you all did and now are crying poor me because of your massive debt. If you are going into something that has that many people already in that field and you as a person are not capable of acquiring that perfect GPA and BAR, YOU should have chose another path to go down. My 19 year old son found all that pertinent information before even choosing a college/university let alone a major and career in the medical field and went a different path just because of those same factors not wanting to chance wasting all that money and time because he was NOT sure he could pull off those kind of numbers. For all you dummies who listened to your parents, family or friends or choosing a career path you were clearly not able to set yourself apart from the rest.....ooooh well! For those of you that had insight and the common sense to check out all the parameters of the careers you were interested in whether or not you aced your GPA's and exams and have a good job or are in line for one, I salute you! Sometimes the sky is not the limit and in my personal opinion, the parents, friends and family who may or may not have pushed you into this decision without knowing or really listening to you did you the biggest disservice of all and unless they are gonna pay for your loans, should be ashamed of themselves! As for offending anyone here, this is not meant for all of you and the ones that have a brain should be able to figure that out, I apologize. I just cant stand anyone who makes their bed and doesn't like sleeping in it and then has the audacity to come here or anywhere else and complain like a child. Your choice was no different than a criminal's choice to rob a bank and get caught. You didn't think it through and now you want to blame everyone else. Guess what, it don't work that way and now you get to sleep in that bed and damn well like too!!!



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