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More college grads are working minimum wage jobs

In California, there were 7.73 million college graduates in 2011, compared with 7.43 million in 2007.
In California, there were 7.73 million college graduates in 2011, compared with 7.43 million in 2007.
m00by/flickr cc

The Wall Street Journal did some interesting reporting last week on underemployed college graduates.

The reporting cited a study out of the National Bureau of Economic Research that concludes that demand for skilled workers is on the decline. Journal reporter Ben Casselman explains in his piece:

The recession left millions of college-educated Americans working in coffee shops and retail stores ... Economists have generally assumed the problem was temporary: As the economy improved, companies would need more highly educated employees. But in a paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a team of Canadian economists argues that the U.S. faces a longer-term problem.

The reporting also dug up the number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs nationally: 284,000 in 2012. That number is up 70 percent from a decade ago. Here's the Wall Street Journal's chart:

This got me wondering about what the numbers look like here in California. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track minimum wage levels for college graduates on a state-by-state basis, but 1.5 million of California's 8.8 million workers earned at or below minimum wage in 2012. 

As unemployment rates in the state rose since the recession hit, so did the number of students earning college degrees. Since the recession, California's seen an increase of 300,000 college graduates with bachelor's degrees or higher. 

And this statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics West Region Office seemed especially staggering:

California is expected to have 6.4 million job openings by the end of the decade. Four-and-a-half million, or 70 percent of those jobs, will require no more education than a high school degree or less. 

Share your thoughts on the value of college degrees in the comments below.