The August jobs report released on Friday showed that the unemployment rate for college graduates fell to pre-pandemic levels after President Joe Biden’s recent pledge to spend at least $500 billion on student loan forgiveness while using the coronavirus pandemic as his legal rationale.
The unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree has dropped to 1.9%, according to the August jobs report, which matches the same rate that was registered in February 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns that ensued in the United States.
The new figures come at the same time that President Biden has pledged $500 billion, a figure that many experts expect to ultimately be much higher, to erase $10-20,000 of student loan debt for millions of Americans while citing the coronavirus pandemic as the legal justification.
Biden, who once said it was "pretty questionable" whether the president had the authority to forgive student loan debt, justified his sweeping executive action by claiming that the 2003 "HEROES Act" grants the secretary of education authority to "address the financial hardship arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic by reducing or canceling the principal balances of student loans for a broad class of borrowers."
Many legal experts have questioned the administration’s interpretation of the "HEROES Act", which was passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the intent to ensure military members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan would not be penalized in repaying their federal student aid loans.
EJ Antoni, research fellow for Regional Economics in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital that the college educated unemployment rate falling to pre-pandemic levels takes away from Biden’s argument that the debt must be forgiven now.
"If you want to talk about, oh these people need debt relief because of the pandemic, then wouldn’t they have needed debt relief that much more in February of 2020?" Antoni said. "The whole idea that this is somehow because of the pandemic is just frankly obnoxious to me."
Antoni explained that Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher have jobs that have essentially kept up with inflation during the pandemic which has shown them healthy wage increases while the average worker has seen a wage drop of 5%.
"So you’re asking the average American who is earning less in real terms to pay for people who are earning just as much in real terms, just as much as they were before the pandemic essentially," Antoni said. "That, in my opinion, is a total slap in the face to the working man who never went to college and obviously to those who went to college and paid back their loans or didn’t borrow."
Antoni added that there have only been "literally a few times in history" where the college unemployment rate has been lower than 1.9% and that 3.7 million more college graduates are working today than were in February 2020.
In addition to concerns about the legal justification forgiving the student loan debt, many have raised doubts about whether it is prudent to spend such a hefty price tag at a time when historic inflation is inflicting financial hardship on so many Americans across the country.
"It's kerosene on the dumpster fire," Antoni said, adding that the pause of interest payments and other factors are almost certain to bring the total cost of the student loan forgiveness to well over $600 million.
"The White House doesn't have a good handle on these numbers at all," Antoni said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.