The prospects are grim these days for high school graduates who look for work instead of enrolling in college, according to a recent study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
Only three in 10 of these recent grads are employed full time, according to the study, which tracked the employment outcomes of 544 young people who graduated from high schools across the country between 2006 and 2011.
The Great Recession has had an impact on everyone, but for young people without a college degree, the employment picture is crippling.
Only 16 percent of those who graduated during the recession (2009-2011) are employed full time, although nearly half are looking for work. A third are unemployed and 15 percent are working part time. One in six have left the labor market altogether.
Thirty-seven percent of students who graduated pre-recession (2006-2008) are employed full time, according to the report.
It's a debilitating reality faced by many young people in the nation's capital every day, says Raymond Bell, founder of the HOPE Project, an IT training and development program in Washington.
"They're unable to get McDonald's, Wendy's, retail," he said. "Twenty years ago in D.C., you could graduate from high school ... and you could go work for the federal government or the Postal Service. Now they're competing with a kid from George Washington University with a 3.9 GPA."