Failure to Launch: Job Struggles Hinder Perception of College Education Value COUNTRY Survey: Confidence in College as Good Investment Drops 33 Percent Since Recession

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., July 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Colleges and universities continue to have to prove their worth as young adults experience a post-graduate failure to launch, according to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey. Just 48 percent of Americans say college is still a good financial investment, declining for the sixth consecutive year, from 81 percent in 2008. Perhaps the post-grad job difficulties are to blame.

A Tougher Job Market
A majority of Americans (78 percent) say it's harder for today's college graduates to find employment that allows for financial independence than past generations. This could be attributed to a "skills gap" as Americans are more likely to say finding a job comparable to their skills, or not having the skills to match what employers need, are the biggest obstacles for today's college graduates (44 percent).

Great Expectations
Despite a tough job market, a majority of Americans (54 percent) only anticipate it to take six months or less for a graduate to find a job after college. Another 58 percent say if they were a new graduate, they would rather take a lower paying job right away than wait to find a position that matches their skills.

But, college students and recent graduates (ages 18-29) beg to differ. This group is the least likely of any age group (49 percent) to expect it to take six months or less to find a job and the most likely (31 percent) to say they'll wait for a position that matches their skills.

"Unemployment is down, but job prospects are still not what they used to be. So it's understandable that there's some hesitation when it comes to higher education and finding a career," says Joe Buhrmann, manager of Financial Security Support at COUNTRY Financial. "Whether you take an interim position right away or wait for a job to match your skillset depends on your unique situation. What's important is planning for either situation while keeping in mind your potential starting income, impending student loans and other financial obligations."

Income Discouragement
The average annual starting salary for a 2014 college graduate is just over $45,000*. However, a majority of Americans say this is more than grads need. Fifty-nine percent say $40,000 or less is the minimum annual income a recent college grad needs to make in order to be financially independent.

"Despite Americans' pessimism when it comes to college and post-graduate prospects, it's important to take a step back to find perspective," continues Buhrmann. "While the perception of the value of higher education may be declining because of rising costs, a college education is still worth it. Over a lifetime, a graduate can earn nearly $1 million more than a non-grad and the annualized return on investment for the money put into a college degree is about 15 percent."**

For additional information, please visit www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com.

*According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers
**According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®
Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index® has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The COUNTRY Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com and on Twitter at @FinanceSecure.

The COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm, based on a national telephone and online survey of at least 3,000 Americans. 

The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.  

About COUNTRY Financial
COUNTRY Financial (www.countryfinancial.com) serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home, life and business insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.

SOURCE COUNTRY Financial



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