Millennials, priced out of college, turning to blue-collar workBlog added by Marlene Y. Satter on January 4, 2017
Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter

Joined: April 29, 2015

Some research says the extra student loan debt incurred by getting a four-year college degree isn't worth it. (Photo: iStock)

Yes, you read that correctly: Millennials are increasingly turning to blue-collar work rather than immersing themselves in college loan debt.

The Miami Herald reports more people are getting high school diplomas even as college enrollment has fallen.

A 2014 Pew Research Center study says a college diploma added $17,500 to a graduate’s annual salary — but Forbes research says that, particularly for low-income students, the extra money that those four years of college cost just isn’t worth it to many.

In addition, statistics from the Department of Labor project that out of the 11 fastest-growing professions in the U.S., only three actually require a bachelor’s degree — with the rest just needing either a high school diploma or an associate’s degree.

RELATED: 10 worst states for student debt

Add to that the increase in apprentice-style education on the job, and the fact that automation is going to take over a number of low-skill jobs that will push workers into other careers, and you have young adults evaluating both the possibility of finding a job without a degree and the lure of avoiding huge loads of student debt. That’s driving them out into the workforce at an earlier age.

Economists aren’t surprised at the trend, according to The Atlantic. The unemployment rate has fallen, after all, since the recession.

And college costs continue to rise, making it difficult for young people to afford that degree. As a result, enrollment in four-year colleges has fallen by several percentage points since late 2015.

RELATED: Student loan woes could continue in 2017

A USA Today report projects that the U.S. economy will be adding 2.5 million semiskilled jobs by 2017, with Forbes pointing out that the carpentry trade alone is set to grow by 24 percent by 2022.

The good news for job seekers is that many of the jobs being added pay more than minimum wage and even rival the salaries of college graduates, especially when student debt is factored in.

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