November 19, 2023
The Washington Post ran another “trash the Biden economy, let the facts be damned” piece today. The theme is that the economy is really awful for new college grads. The paper finds us a few real-life examples of struggling recent grads to make its case.
The problem is that the data in the article actually tell the opposite story. While it tells us that the unemployment rate for recent college grads is higher than for the workforce as a whole, it actually is lower than it had been for most of the decade prior to the pandemic.
In fact, instead of being a bad time for recent college grads, the data shown in the graph in the article indicate that their employment prospects are relatively good today. Their unemployment rate was more than 30 percent higher a decade ago.
In fact, this is a point made by the economists featured in the article. The experience of recent grads only looks bad compared to the strong labor market for other workers, it is not a story of recent grads becoming impoverished.
This fact comes out in the other major data point in the piece, the share of young adults (ages 18 to 24) living at home. While it tells us that the share is higher than in 2019, the chart in the piece tells a different story.
For men in this age group, the share living at home is higher than lows hit in 2005-07, just before the Great Recession, but well below the average of the last two decades. There had been an upward trend in the share of women in this age group living at home, with a big pandemic jump. This pandemic jump has now been largely reversed. In other words, the story here is that fewer young women are living at home.
So, the Post really doesn’t have a case for new college grads struggling, but it apparently wants to tell a bad economy story and doesn’t intend to let reality stand in the way.