The Lost Generation? Labor Market Outcomes for Post Great Recession Entrants

Produced by: 
National Bureau of Economic Research
Available from: 
July 2020
Paper author(s): 
Jesse Rothstein
Topic: 
Labor
Year: 
2020

I study cohort patterns in the labor market outcomes of recent college graduates, examining changes surrounding the Great Recession. Recession entrants have lower wages and employment than those of earlier cohorts; more recent cohorts’ employment is even lower, but the newest entrants’ wages have risen. I relate these changes to "scarring" effects of initial conditions. I demonstrate that adverse early conditions permanently reduce new entrants’ employment probabilities. I also replicate earlier results of medium-term scarring effects on wages that fade out by the early 30s. But scarring cannot account for the employment collapse for recent cohorts. There was a dramatic negative structural break in college graduates’ employment rates, beginning around the 2005 entry cohort, that shows no sign of abating.

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