With the debts for student loans piling up across America’s college campuses, now topping a whopping $29,000 per student last year, many college students are now left with fewer options for repaying their debts after they graduate. Not only do college students have overwhelming college debts, many are finding that when they do exit college they do not have the opportunities their parents had to find high-paying jobs. Now, many millennials are left with little to no income.
Prospects for Millennials with a college degree better than those without
Proponents of a college education, however, note that the employment prospects of millennials are a lot better than those without college education. For example, millennials who graduated high school but did not attend college can expect to face an unemployment rate of 17.9% compared to 7.7% for young college graduates.
But despite the increased opportunities, according to a recent CNN report, many who have graduated from college continue to find themselves in what they term a hopeless situation. Millennials claim they are better educated than many previous generations but “they are shut out of the middle class with no road map of how to get there.”
Are workers more educated than their parents? More have attended college. In fact, according to CNN, “The number of minimum wage workers with associate’s degrees, or in occupational programs, more than doubled to 223,000 from 2007, according to the U.S. Labor Department.” The number of workers who have college degrees who are working minimum wage jobs has also doubled to 284,000 in 2012 from 2007.
Millennials protest low wages and no job opportunities
The millennials are not sitting on their laurels, either. In fact, many of them are “turning up the heat” on employers such as Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. They are forming unions, protesting and striking all in an effort to get employers to raise their minimum wages to what they consider a “working wage.”
While some workers have been successful at getting increased wages, others say it’s not enough and continue to rally for broader increases and a mandatory minimum wage increases across the board to $15 per hour. Others have increased their labor union activities and participated in strikes.
Should the minimum wage be increased?
While it’s true that many people with college degrees are struggling to find better paying jobs, is increasing the minimum wage really the answer? Minimum wage jobs historically were considered a stepping-stone to a higher paying job.
Rather than bargaining for better pay, maybe our efforts could be better spent trying to create better jobs. For instance, according to a 2012 report by the National Employment Law Project, up to 58% of the jobs created during the recent economic recovery have been low paying jobs like retail and food prep workers. As workers have shifted to less lucrative jobs the median household income in the United States has dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, according to the Census Bureau.
Maybe it’s time to review our economic policies to understand how to create better jobs and allow minimum wage jobs to remain a stepping stone to a better career.
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