In today’s “water is wet” news, a new study shows that black college graduates have difficulties when it comes to finding jobs after graduating. According to the study released Tuesday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research the 2013 unemployment rate for recent college grads who are black was almost twice that of recent college grads overall.
Key findings of the study include:
- In 2013 (the most recent full year of data available), 12.4 percent of black college graduates between the ages of 22 and 27 were unemployed. For all college graduates in the same age range, the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.
- Between 2007 (immediately before the Great Recession) and 2013, the unemployment rate for black recent college graduates nearly tripled (up 7.8 percentage points from 4.6 percent in 2007).
- In 2013, more than half (55.9 percent) of employed black recent college graduates were “underemployed” –defined as working in an occupation that typically does not require a four-year college degree. Even before the Great Recession, almost half of black recent graduates were underemployed (45.0 percent in 2007).
- Black recent college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors have fared somewhat better, but still suffer from high unemployment and underemployment rates. For example, for the years 2010 to 2012, among black recent graduates with degrees in engineering, the average unemployment rate was 10 percent and the underemployment rate was 32 percent.
A large part of this problem is job market discrimination. One study found that job applicants with “black sounding” names (researchers gave Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones as examples) were less likely to get called back for an interview than their counterparts with the same qualifications who had “white sounding” names (like Emily Walsh or Greg Baker). And some researchers have suggested that drug testing would improve the prospects of black job-seekers because hiring managers are more likely to assume they’ve used drugs and are less likely to discriminate when presented with actual evidence to the contrary.
Black men also tend to be underrepresented in management and professional occupations and over-represented in low-wage work. In 2011, researchers found that a $10,000 increase in the average annual income of an occupation translated into a 7 percentage point drop in the share of black men doing that job.
So on top of some students being straddled with student loan debt, good luck with finding a job because of your name, your skin color and what you chose to major in. Sometimes I wonder if going into the military, instead of college, would be a better option for high school graduates? Not one of my friends who’ve served in the military and who are now working as government contractors in various industries have been unemployed in recent years.