Pass / Fail

So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Half of new college graduates jobless or underemployed

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It's cold out there.

An analysis shows that 50 percent of new college graduates are jobless or underemployed, working away at positions that are below their skill levels.

The Associated Press looked at education data, which indicate that job prospects, including underemployment, for those with bachelor's degrees were at their lowest level in more than a decade.

"While there's strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor's degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages."

The story brings up the point that more than ever, choices young people make early in life are having a long-lasting impact. That decision to major in humanities as a 17- or 18-year-old could leave you wondering whether the college degree was worth it as you work as a restaurant server to offset mounting college loans. Recent news showed the student loan burden now exceeds $1 trillion in the United States.

The AP found that the Mountain West was most likely to have underemployed or jobless young people (about 60 percent); the rural southeast was next, with Alabama and Kentucky. The Pacific, including California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska were high on the list. The southern U.S., including Texas, was most likely to have employed young people in higher-skilled jobs.

Young people were more likely to be restaurant servers and bartenders than engineers, physicists, or mathematicians. More were working office jobs such as receptionists and payroll clerks than computer professional jobs. More were cashiers, retail clerks and customer service reps than engineers.

If you majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities, you were less likely to find a job at your education level; if you majored in nursing, teaching, accounting, or computer science, you were most likely to do so.

Harvard economist Richard Freeman told the AP that a college degree could make you more money, but that won't be the case for everyone.

"If you're not sure what you're going to be doing," Freeman said, "it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college."

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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