Sometimes More is Less
Higher education may be less affordable for millennials, but it's certainly not less available. NCES data shows a 139.12 percent increase in the number of public and private institutions since 1980, growing from 3,231 schools to 4,495 institutions nationwide. But why would this be a problem, since more school means more chances for Millennials to grab that all access pass to prosperity? Well, consider the following.
We know from earlier that from 2002-2009 nearly 130 million people applied, were accepted, and enrolled in public or private institutions, which is about 18.5 million per year. Over that same period, 19,971,685 degrees were conferred to qualifying candidates, which comes to a little over 2.8 million Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees per year. So if you applied to college between 2002 and 2009, your field of competiton had eighteen and half million other people in it. If you were among the ones who eventually graduated, your field of competition ranges from a little over 503,000 (for doctoral degrees) to over 10 million (for bachelors degrees).
Having more colleges and universities is a double-edged sword. As it increases the number of opportunities to attend, the pool of potential applicants and eventual students deepens alongside it. Graduating doesn't alleviate this problem considering that as the NCES data showed yearly increases in enrolled students, it also showed a year over year increase in the number of degrees awarded. So Millennials not only have lots of competition going in, they've got qualified competition coming out.
Corporate America, Will You Hire Me?
With nearly 3 million degree holders coming onto the scene each year America's job market is bursting at the seams with potentially qualified candidates. As resumes crowd corporate recruiting desks, firms shy away from the idea that a degree alone makes a worthy candidate looking to experience in the field in lieu of who's holding more advanced degree. The supply saturated labor market sits Corporate America atop a mountain of inelastic demand as firms with billions in government loans fire more, hire less, and lower wages offered to new hires.
From 2002-2007, the section of the employed work force that came from new hires was about 4 percent per month on average. After 2007 this rate fell to 3 percent (about 1,398,690 fewer people monthly) and has yet to return to pre-recession levels.
Over that same period, the number of job openings in the private sector averaged about 46,333,000 per year, but fell just 36,619,000 between 2008 and 2011. Current openings rates, as of 2011 data, have yet to return to pre-recession levels.