As we ring in 2018, college seniors around the U.S. are returning to school, focusing more on the frantic job search than on their last semester of classes. Sadly, however, many will find themselves underprepared when they graduate.
Even though the overall U.S. job market is growing at a fair pace, we still see persistent trends of millennials struggling to find a job after college; living with their parents far more and for far longer; and generally being more risk-averse than previous generations. Two disconcerting statisticsdubbed by A.T. Kearney the “millennial double whammy” — steadily increasing student loan debt and stagnant wage growth — paint the concerning picture of the present state of the macroeconomic impact of higher education.
The dual burdens of loan debt and low wage growth do not affect everyone in a uniform fashion. Other factor being equal, the average undergraduate degree does not vary greatly in cost because of the concentration chosen: A degree in math is not disproportionately more expensive than a degree in art history. So although the debt levels are fairly degree-neutral, the same cannot be said of the problem of stagnant wage growth.
Because of market dislocations of supply and demand in highly technical sectors, wage growth and total real wages are markedly higher in jobs that require advanced technical and analytical skills, such as in the roles of business systems analyst, research scientist, software engineer, and network engineer.