via The Atlantic:
College graduation — sure, it’s an occasion to celebrate for most undergrads, but in this economy we know it’s also a time of gnawing, career-oriented dread for plenty others. Even at Harvard, where Oprah is sharing some words of wisdom at commencement today, just 61 percent of soon-to-be grads told theCrimson that they had an actual job lined up. One in ten said they had no set plans for the future. Eesh.
But hey, at least they weren’t class of 2011, 2010…or 1975. In honor of the cap and gown season, I’ve put together a brief history of the job market for new bachelor’s degree holders in charts (how else, right?). It turns out the last few lean years might not be totally without precedent. And as the job market has improved more broadly, it seems the awful unemployment rates young grads experienced post-recession really are finally fading into memory.
Every so many years, the Department of Education surveys classes of college graduates about their post-campus lives, and so we have full-time employment rates dating back to the 1970’s.* The class of 2008, which graduated head on into the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the financial meltdown, appears to have had the worst time finding work of any cohort in around three decades. Things would have only gotten worse in the immediate next few years.
On the other hand, it pretty clearly wasn’t a picnic graduating into President Ford’s economy either. True, college graduates then didn’t have to worry about student debt in the same way as today, and so many might have felt more comfortable waiting for the perfect job or bumming around a bit. But that 66.8 percent employment rate for the class of ’75 at least suggests that Millennials aren’t the first generation to have trouble landing post-college work.