Bill Cosby had what you might call tough love for this year's graduates of the University of Maryland College Park. In his commencement address Tuesday, the actor and entertainer warned the class of 1992 that their employment prospects were bleak: "There are no jobs," he said. "You are well-educated and you're cute, but that's not going to cut it."
It was the kind of straight talk leavened with wit people have come to expect -- and accept -- from Mr. Cosby. Call it humor amid the horror. But it didn't make the truth any less painful. This year's grads, who entered college just as the dizzying boom of the '80s was reaching its height, are emerging at a time when the nation is struggling to recover from the worst recession in 40 years.
Unlike earlier economic downturns, which brought pain to blue-collar workers but left the middle class largely untouched, this recession has thrown hundreds of thousands of white-collar employees out of work, too. Those are exactly the kinds of jobs college students expect to get when they graduate. So now the class of 1992 finds itself competing in a weak job market with older, laid-off workers from the class of 1982.