At age 33 and boasting an Ivy League graduate degree, Kitama Cahill-Jackson never thought he’d end up a security guard.
But after years of layoffs and coming in second in job interviews, the Emmy Award–winning documentary filmmaker took the job.
Cahill-Jackson dreamed of a career as a news producer. But now, after years of unsuccessfully searching for journalism jobs, he said he can’t even look at the news.
“When I got to work at 4:30 in the morning, I would listen to NPR. I don’t listen anymore because it makes me sad. That’s the career I didn’t have,” he said.
“I don’t read the paper because it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that I put on this uniform every day and come in here, and I’m not seen as a professional. I worked so hard academically, and for all of that, to work at a job that only requires a GED.”
Cahill-Jackson is among the more than half of black college graduates who are underemployed, according to a study (PDF) released by the Center for Economic Policy and Research this month.
Recent black college grads ages 22 to 27 have an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent, more than double the 5.6 percent unemployed among all college grads in that demographic and almost a threefold increase from the 2007 level of 4.6 percent, before the Great Recession took its toll on the U.S. economy. More than half of black graduates, 55.9 percent, are underemployed.
Even for those who enter the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, areas where grads are the most needed and paid the highest, African-Americans still have a 10 percent unemployment rate and a 32 percent underemployment rate.
The study’s authors blame racism, a faltering economy and an unequal playing field.
This is a great post on the realistic prospects after education.