In October 2011, roughly 68 percent of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in a college or university, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But many who chose not to pursue a college degree, studies show, are finding that their options in the workforce are lacking.
According to a new report by Rutgers University's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, recent high school graduates without a college degree are struggling to find work.
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For this study, the center interviewed a sample of 544 high school graduates from the classes of 2006 through 2011.
Currently, only 30 percent of these high school graduates are employed full time, compared to approximately 60 percent of college graduates. For high school students who graduated during the recession, or between 2009 and 2011, this figure falls even further to 16 percent.
For the high school graduates who were able to find jobs after earning their diplomas, about 90 percent said they were being paid by the hour, the reports indicates. The median hourly wage earned by these students at their jobs was $7.50 per hour, or about $.25 above the federal minimum wage level. In contrast, the BLS reports that the average salary of a bachelor's degree holder is around $54,756 per year.
While many high school graduates are not earning massive salaries at their first jobs, most don't value the experience as a stepping stone to a career.
According to the report, 79 percent of these students said they took their job out of necessity; only 4 percent saw it as a career.
Given the many shortfalls of not attending college, about 33 percent of high school students said they consider going back to school to earn a degree. An additional 9 percent said they think about enrolling in a job training program, while 31 percent said they consider both college and job training.