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TOPIC: America:_Land_of_the_free,_home_of_the_overqualified
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The outlook for recent college graduates continues to be depressing.

According to data released earlier this year by the Center for College Affordability & Productivity, 48% of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that don't require a four-year degree and 37% are employed in positions that require only a high school diploma. The rise in underemployment in this group since 1970 is pretty stark.

More than 15% of taxi drivers and firefighters hold college degrees. In 1970, fewer than 1% of taxi drivers held one, and the figure for firefighters was about 2%. Nearly 25% of all retail salespeople, along with 15% of bank tellers and 5% of janitors are now college graduates, the report says. Back in the 1970s, college graduates with those jobs accounted for less than 5% of the workforce.

Many of these workers in low-paying jobs are going to have a tough time repaying their student loans. According to the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success, students who borrowed money and earned a bachelor's degree in 2011 owed an average of $26,6000 in student debt, up from $25,250 in 2010. Given that college tuition has risen at greater than the rate of inflation for years, that figure will only increase in the coming years. Unfortunately, a huge mismatch exists between the skills of the American workforce and the jobs that are available. As Edward Luce recently noted in The Financial Times, Germany does a much better job in training its workforce.

"Germany channels roughly half of all high-school students into the vocational education stream from the age of 16. In the US that would be seen as too divisive, even un-American," he writes. "More than 40 per cent of Germans become apprentices. Only 0.3 per cent of the US labour force does so."

Training workers for tomorrow's jobs is easier and cheaper than retraining those whose skills are deficient. The U.S., though, has a lot to do to improve in this area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor "participation rate," the number of people looking for work, is at its lowest level since 1979.

Pittsburgh PA
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TOPIC: America: Land of the free, home of the overqualified
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