I’ve written recently about the job prospects for college graduates versus those without bachelor’s degrees, noting that the unemployment rate for college graduates is about half that for workers with no more than a high school diploma (3.7 percent versus 8.1 percent as of January). Several readers wrote me to take issue with the fact that I was looking at the whole universe of workers with these credentials, rather than just the recently graduated. Perhaps college graduates from generations past are more protected than those just entering the work force, they wrote, and it is misleading to say that young graduates are equally secure.
It is true that young workers have higher unemployment rates than their older counterparts, at just about all levels of education. A recent report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the job prospects of new college graduates, for example, found that as of October 2011, the graduates of the class of 2011 had an unemployment rate of 14 percent.
But that number refers to joblessness just a few months after graduation. If you look at all recent college graduates in their 20s, the unemployment rate drops sharply. It is especially impressive when compared with the jobless rate for all high school graduates in the same age group.