Is this the ‘definitive guide’ to the college grad job market?

by Grace

Jordan Weissmann wants to set us straight about the job market for college graduates.  He thinks the press has been overly pessimistic about the value of a college degree, and he offers a “definitive guide” summarized in five points.

(1) They’re Better Off Than High School Grads … 

(2) … But They’re Still Hurting

(3) Underemployment Has Grown…

(4) … But by Less Than You Think

(5) Don’t Worry About College; Worry About the Economy

Conflicting data
The supporting details can be read in the linked article, with dueling data sometimes making the case for valid arguments on either side of the optimistic/pessimistic divide. Weissmann refers to several data sources, and all have their limitations and are subject to interpretation.  (For example, the unemployment rates for recent college graduates vary significantly depending on source and method of measuring.)

Very importantly, career prospects vary according to individual circumstances because the college premium depends on factors like college major, ability bias, and reputation of college.  And Weissmann’s last point may be the most instrumental in affecting the college graduate job market.  A booming economy makes every college degree more valuable.  Prosperity covers all sorts of sins, and helps win elections.  Remember this?

It’s the economy, stupid.


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