WASHINGTON – For most, Labor Day is a paid holiday off of work, that celebrates the economic and social contribution of workers; but for 70% of the U.S. college graduating class of 2012 it was just another day waiting tables, washing dishes, and hoping baby boomers remember to leave more than a ten percent tip.
A weak labor market has left the majority of young college graduates either underemployed or jobless. Many of these graduates are making ends meet waiting tables.
”This isn’t what I expected my life to be like after I graduated college, but I guess it could always be worse, at least I’m not stuck at some lame office doing spreadsheets all day,” said Mike Richardson, as he served customers at an Atlanta steakhouse. The 25-year-old graduated in 2012 with a creative writing degree after nearly six years in college.
Mike and the 70% of his fellow recent graduates who are also currently working in restaurants are often paid below minimum wage with no benefits or paid days off. Often times these recent graduates find themselves working weekends and holidays just to pay back their student loans.
“My dad told me to go to college. He said to learn a trade! Become a plumber or an electrician,” said Mike while he angrily switched the lunch menus over to the dinner menus. “Well, look at me know! I have forty thousand dollars in college debt and the only khakis I own are covered in A-1 sauce.”
When asked to comment on his son’s financial woes, Mike’s father Brian Richardson said “He doesn’t seem to be having too tough of a time to me. He has an iPhone, a Playstation 3, and goes out drinking every night with his friends. Then he comes home every night at 2 am and eats all the leftovers in the fridge before passing out to episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix. He hasn’t got a haircut in 6 months. I wish I would have gotten a creative writing degree.”
Kyle Scanlan hopes he gets holiday pay for this.
image by Graeme Maclean