At Brookings Martha Ross sounds what has become a monotonously recurrent theme with the same persistent conclusion. Millennials are finding it hard to get jobs especially jobs that pay enough for them to pay off their educational loans and the solution to that is more education:
Helping young people prepare to engage in work and life as productive adults is a central task for any society. But after the great K-12 conveyer belt of education ends in the United States, young people out of high school face a landscape of college and training options that can be confusing, difficult to navigate, and financially out of reach—and they also face a labor market that favors those with college degrees.
It’s a small wonder then, that some young people are struggling. In a new analysis, my colleague Natalie Holmes and I found that 17 percent of all 18 to 24 year-olds, or 2.3 million people, in the nation’s largest cities and counties are out of work. Nationally, there are 5 million such young people.
On the whole, their circumstances suggest a difficult transition to adulthood. Only 36 percent worked in the past year, compared to 69 percent of all young adults. Twenty percent left high school before completion, and another forty-three percent report that a high school diploma is their highest level of educational attainment. Only 17 percent are in school, compared to 53 percent of all young adults. (Since so many young adults are in school, and school enrollment affects labor market behavior and prospects, we did not include all students in the analysis.
I’m finding it hard to reconcile the various competing claims. Isn’t that just a more polite, more politically correct way of saying “We’re full”? The American workforce does not need more people with little or no command of English and limited skills. We shouldn’t be importing them and doing so pushes down the wages of other workers with whom they compete for jobs.
How in the world do we plan to to train people who won’t stay in high school long enough to graduate? Saying that such people need more education is facile.
To add insult to injury, I’m now seeing people with master degrees being hired to fill very ordinary positions that a couple of generations ago would have been done by people with high school only. The additional years of education don’t qualify them better for their jobs but it does differentiate them from people with less formal education and add a significant amount of educational debt.