Labor Market Precarity and Higher Education

How does economic uncertainty shape the ways students navigate higher education?

The last 50 years have witnessed a shift from relative stability to precarity in the labor market as steady, well-paying jobs have been replaced by part-time, low-wage, and contingent work. These trends have been compounded in the 21st century, first by the 2008 recession and more recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. While research has documented the broad impact of economic uncertainty on higher education institutions, little is known about how individuals are experiencing this type of uncertainty within colleges and universities. By analyzing in-depth interviews with 80 college students, this project will explore how students navigate economic uncertainty within higher education. Moreover, with the support of an intersectional lens, the study will examine how the mutual constitution of race, class, and gender shapes experiences with and resources for managing labor market precarity.

This project is sponsored by:

American Sociological Association

For more information about the sponsor, please visit

For more information about the project, please contact Dr. Blake Silver at