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College Grads Taking Low Paying Jobs

The number of California college graduates working in low-paying jobs rose by 60,000 from 2006 to 2011 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Throughout the state, 260,000 recent college grads under the age of 30 are working on the front lines of food service and retail industries where historically those jobs have gone to workers without a degree.

“We’re seeing graduates in humanities and some of the arts fields struggling because perhaps what their degree is in doesn’t translate well to the global current economy,” said Ian Moats, staffing consultant at Express Employment Professionals.

Moats said it is a skills gap between the open positions and employer may have and the skills an applicant possesses out of college. Currently, the healthcare and technology sectors are growing. “A bachelor’s degree used to be a golden ticket into getting a decent middle wage paying job where you could have the opportunity to prove yourself. We’re seeing that that’s not the case so much now due to the competition and the skills gap they’re not getting the opportunity to prove themselves in the job market and they’re resulting and taking lower wage jobs,” said Moats.

Those jobs include food service, retail and clerical work. Raymond McDonald of the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board said that shouldn’t dissuade people from getting higher education. “Having a college degree and having a solid educational foundation continues to be important. I would say that one of the lessons from this latest statistic is that in fact you have to have higher level of education and you have to continuously improve you education and your skills,” said McDonald.

Last year, the most common jobs taken by college graduates included retail positions, secretaries, customer service representatives, cashiers and waiters and waitresses. “Also you should remember that some of those jobs that require good customer service, interaction, good communication, those are good preludes to other types of jobs so I see those as building jobs,” said McDonald.

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