Study: Half Of College Graduates Working Jobs That Don’t Need A Degree
A bartender with a bachelor’s degree may be the poster child for a new study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity that found almost half of 2010 American college graduates are either unemployed or working in low-paying, low-skilled jobs that do not require a degree. According to the report “Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed?” 48 percent of 2010 graduates—more than 20 million people—hold jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree, and 37 percent are working in positions that require a high-school diploma or less.
In the study, the report’s authors examined employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the number of college graduates is growing faster than the number of jobs requiring a college degree. They compared underemployment statistics by looking at data from the 1970 Census and 2010 info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The authors selected six occupations for which the required skills have changed little over the past 40 years: Taxi drivers, Shipping and receiving clerks, salesmen and retailers, firefighters, carpenters and bank tellers. In 1970, for example, fewer than 5 percent of firefighters held a college degree, but by 2010 the figure had increased to 18 percent. Likewise, only 1 percent of 1970 were college graduates, by 2010 more than 15 percent held the occupation. In fact, according to data from the Current Population Survey, the percentage of underemployed college graduates jumped from 10.8 percent in 1067 to 17.5 percent in 1990.
“We have noted for several years a disconnect between the number of graduates and the realities of the labor market,” study author Richard Vedder said. “It isn’t like underemployment was growing slowly and shot up in the last five years. It has been a steady rise.”
In 2010, 39.3 percent of adults aged 25 to 34 had a post-secondary degree—up from 38.8 percent in 2009. And while the number of college grads is expected to grow by an additional 19 million by 2020, the number of jobs requiring a bachelor’s or higher is expected to grow by less than 7 million. Researchers say students should focus their education on workforce demand to increase their shots of gaining meaningful employment post-graduation. For example, those with engineering and economics degrees typically earn twice as much as graduates of social work and education by mid-career.
“Maybe we should incentivize colleges to more accurately counsel students,” Vedder told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “If you get a degree in business administration, you may not necessarily walk into a middle-class life. There’s a good chance you may end up being a bartender.”
[Image via Flickr/ra_hurd]
I want more stuff like this!