No one can predict how severe an economic downturn might be – and which workers are most at risk of a job cut. But it’s useful to put historical data in context.
While having at least a bachelor’s degree does reduce the likelihood of getting laid off, all college graduates are not treated the same by employers.
Young college graduates will likely be the first to receive pink slips in the next recession. That has been the case during the Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, and during the 2001 recession which Americans endured for eight months.
Brookings Institution economist Harry Holzer says newer college graduates are among the first to be targeted by employers in a recession, because they are the most marginal people in the workforce, having just entered it. “Young people get hit the hardest during a recession and that will include young college grads. It will take them longer to find any job, and it will take longer for them to find the jobs they really like in terms of beginning a career,” he says.
Youth is a factor that tends to work against workers in a recession. People who have recently entered the labor market “are most vulnerable to economic shock, by comparison, to people who are more established in their careers,” says Hamilton Project policy director Ryan Nunn. They “may have a more durable relationship with a particular employer and maybe can ride out the recession a little more easily.”
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