Despite the fact that college education in America is a years-long exercise in dodging crippling debt and financial exploitation with uncertain payoffs, it goes without saying that having a college degree is still preferable to only having a high school diploma, all things being equal. Because while indebted college graduates may be screwed at the moment, at least they get to cut ahead in line when the jobs come around.

Whereas Americans who've only gotten a high school diploma over the past five years are just unemployed. At an awful rate, according to a new report out of Rutgers University written up in the NYT today. Barely over a quarter of recent high school graduates have full time jobs. From the report:

About half of the recent high school graduates were able to obtain at least one full-time job since they graduated from high school, but as of the survey, only 30% report being employed full time. Most (nearly 90%) report being paid by the hour. The median hourly wage earned in the first job was only $7.50, a mere 25 cents above the federal minimum wage level... Most of these high school graduates' jobs - 75% - were reported as temporary positions. With this combination of temporary, low-wage work, it is likely that few of the recent high school graduates would have been able to earn an annual income of $10,890 to exceed the official federal poverty level for a single household.

Yes, many recent college grads have bad or part-time jobs too. But they, at least, have prospects if the employment situation improves. High school grads, for the most part, don't. It's enough to make you wish that the middle class wasn't dead, along with the American dream. (BTW, the new American dream is "home rental." Make a note of it.)

Luckily they're happy to keep you high school grads in prison a lot longer these days, at no cost to you.

[Heldrich Center via NYT.