Discouraged College Graduates Dropping Out of Workforce 'In Droves,' Says Study

It's tough out there for new graduates.

ByABC News
February 24, 2010, 6:34 PM

Feb. 25, 2010 — -- An unexpected jump today in the number of Americans filing for unemployment for the first time is renewing fears that employers may not be done laying off workers, something we at ABC News are experiencing first hand this week.

The economic damage done by these relentless waves of layoffs has been deep and well-documented. But I've been struck recently by the impact it's having on a corner of the job market that usually escapes harm: college graduates. As a group, they're still faring much, much better than those without a degree. But the newest graduates seem to be an exception. There's just no room for the Class of '08 and '09 in this job market.

Listen to the stories we've been hearing on ABCNews.com from recent graduates:

"I just graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in corporate communications and concentrations in business and Chinese," wrote one. "I thought I would be set once I graduated. Of course, I was wrong. In order to pay the bills, am doing random odd jobs, such as cleaning and helping people pack."

Another told us: "I'm 22 years old with a degree in management from Hofstra University. I've been job hunting since May 2009. I've been making some money babysitting, but I don't want to make a career out of babysitting for the rest of my life."

Or this: "I graduated from Northern Michigan University in August '08 with a BS in mathematics. I have applied for nearly 300 jobs and only heard back from a small handful. Got a personal trainer's certificate..."

The unemployment rate among young Americans -- age 16 to 24 -- now stands at 18.9 percent. And while that number includes workers with only high school diplomas -- who have a hard time finding work even in good times -- there's no getting around the mountainous challenge it represents.

A new study by the Economic Policy Institute shows young Americans have become so discouraged by their job prospects that they are leaving the labor force "in droves." Since the recession began 25 months ago, EPI says 1.3 million young workers have dropped out of the job hunt, and the study's authors say, "This lost experience is likely to have a lasting detrimental effect on the wages and occupational paths of these young workers."