With the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines over the next few months, colleges may finally be able to consider a return to normalcy and the possibility of a safe opening in the fall. But despite the prospect of pandemic relief, there is another crisis facing higher education: Millions of students are set to graduate this spring into the worst job market in decades.
A study that we recently completed using data from Burning Glass Technologies, a labor-market analytics firm, found that since the start of the pandemic, hiring for entry-level college graduate positions has fallen 45%, more than for any other category of education. This is especially troubling because the first job after graduation is critical to launching a career. Those who start behind tend to stay behind.
Worse, those who graduate into underemployment are five times more likely to remain stuck in mismatched jobs after five years compared with those who start in a college-level job. Ten years later, three-quarters of workers underemployed at the five-year mark haven’t progressed.