The Ivy-League-educated barista who can't find a job that pays enough to live anywhere besides her childhood bedroom. The freshly minted MBA and law school graduates strapped with debt and frustrated about the six-figure jobs and master-of-the-universe titles that haven't materialized.
Nearly five years after the Great Recession officially ended, the struggles and dampened expectations of young college graduates have become a fixture of American politics and even popular culture. But amid all the focus on the difficulties of college-educated millennials, one facet of this upheaval has remained largely unexplored: the continued significance of race.
As a new crop of college graduates joins the American workforce, unemployment rates among minorities with degrees remain distinctly elevated and their economic prospects disproportionately dimmed, a new report released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research has found.
In 2013, the most recent period for which unemployment data are available by both race and educational attainment, 12.4 percent of black college graduates between the ages of 22 and 27 were unemployed. For all college graduates in the same age range, the unemployment rate stood at just 5.6 percent. The figures point to an ugly truth: Black college graduates are more than twice as likely to be unemployed.
White men with recent criminal histories are far more likely to receive calls back than black men with no criminal record at all.
"We absolutely aren't trying to discourage people from going to college," said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research who coauthored the study. "College degrees do have value. But what we are trying to show here is that this is not about individuals, or individual effort. There is simply overwhelming evidence that discrimination remains a major feature of the labor market."