Posts tagged ‘Unemployment’

May 15, 2014

Underemployed college graduates earning lower wages than in the past

by Grace

The problem for today’s underemployed college graduates is not so much that many of them are working in jobs that do not require a degree, but that their salaries in those types of jobs are lower than in previous years.

… it is not unusual for a significant share of college graduates to work in jobs that do not require a degree …


But their jobs pay less than in the past.

The bad news is that these recent B.A.s, working in jobs that don’t require a college degree, are in occupations that pay far less than in the past. It used to be that more than half of these overeducated young workers would find themselves in “good” jobs—meaning that they’d pay at least $45,000 in today’s market. Today, less than 40 percent do. Meanwhile, more than a fifth of this group were in low-wage jobs, meaning they paid $25,000 a year or less.


Few electricians but many bartenders

… Good non-college jobs consist of those occupations—for example, electrician, dental hygienist, or mechanic—that paid an average wage of around $45,000 per year in 2012. While these jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree, they tend to be career oriented, relatively skilled, and fairly well compensated. At the other end of the spectrum, low-wage jobs paid an average wage below $25,000 per year in 2012, and include occupations such as bartender, food server, and cashier.

Add in the problems of recent college graduates suffering the worst unemployment rates in 50years and the unprecedented student loan debt levels, the picture looks gloomy for this year’s crop of graduating seniors.


Jaison R. Abel, Richard Deitz, and Yaqin Su, “Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?”, Federal Reserve Bank of New York Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Volume 20, Number 1, 2014.

Jordan Weissmann, “How Bad Is the Job Market for the College Class of 2014?”, Slate, May 8, 2014.

April 18, 2013

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.

January 13, 2012

Two recent reports on college majors, salaries, and unemployment rates

by Grace

These two recent reports from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce  are good sources for information on college majors, salaries, and unemployment rates.

What’s it Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors – 5/11

Students’ choice of Majors is just as important as decision to get Bachelor’s Degree

On average, bachelor‟s degrees pay off. But a new study confirms that some undergraduate majors pay off a lot more than others. In fact, the difference in earnings potential between one major and another can be more than 300 percent.

Using United States Census data available for the first time, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is helping Americans connect the dots between college majors and career earnings. In the new report, What’s it Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors, this first-time research demonstrates just how critical the choice of major is to a student‟s median earnings.

Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal – 1/12


Study also finds that some BA’s outperform graduate degrees in the job market

Unemployment figures show the jobless rate for recent college graduates with Bachelor’s Degrees has been running at an unacceptable 8.9 percent. But, a new study from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce finds that unemployment among job seekers with no better than a high school diploma is a catastrophic 22.9 percent – and an almost unthinkable 31.5 percent among high school dropouts.

So, is college still worth it? A major conclusion of the new report is that it all depends on your major. And while a college degree gives job seekers a formidable advantage over those without, the study points out, not all degrees are created equal, and there are a number of factors that prospective students should consider before sending off their college applications.

Related links for What’s it Worth:

Related links for Hard Times:

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