Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St. via The Center Square
College and university students in the class of 2020 faced the worst — and most uncertain — job market the U.S. had seen in generations. Economic fallout in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak pushed unemployment to 13.3% in May of 2020 as millions of college students graduated and joined the labor force. Only a month earlier, the U.S. jobless was 14.8%, the highest point since the Great Depression.
With the average annual cost of a college education ranging from about $26,000 at a four-year public school to $54,000 at a private one, many students take on debt to afford college. Total student debt topped $1.7 trillion in 2020. Considering the financial challenges, it is as important as ever that college graduates secure jobs that require the skills they obtained as undergraduates, and that pay a salary that justifies the investment in their education.
Though the job market has improved significantly since the early months of the pandemic on a national scale, in some major U.S. cities, recent college graduates still face considerable hurdles.
Shreveport-Bossier City is one of four Louisiana metro areas to rank among the worst places for recent college graduates to start a career. Disadvantages in the metro areas include the large share of low-wage jobs held by young workers. The average monthly wage for workers between the ages of 22 and 24 in the metro area is just $1,826, less than in over 75% of all other U.S. metro areas.
College-educated metro area residents are also more likely to face serious financial hardship than most Americans with a bachelor’s degree. An estimated 13.8% of local residents ages 25 and up with a bachelor’s degree live below the poverty line, compared to 9.6% of college-educated adults nationwide.
The worst cities for recent graduates to find a job were identified using an index of six key measures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau: (1) average monthly earnings for 22-24-year-olds in Q1 2021, (2) change in employment of 22-24-year-olds from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, (3) the share of 22-24-year-olds employed in professions that typically require a college education, (4) the October 2021 unemployment rate, (5) the ratio of median earnings for adults with a bachelor’s degree to the median earnings for adults of all education levels, and (6) the poverty rate among college educated adults. Only metro areas where 35% or less of the population 3 years and over are enrolled in college or graduate school were considered in our analysis.