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1 in 2 College Graduates Unemployed or Underemployed

1 in 2 College Graduates Unemployed or Underemployed
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If you, like a number of my students, are graduating from college in the upcoming months, you’re not going to like this post. An Associated Press analysis of government data reports that half of college graduates are either jobless or are underemployed, holding positions as retail clerks or waitresses that do not require a college degree.

Students who major in the sciences, education and health fields generally fare better in the job market, although one of those interviewed by the Associated Press, Kelman Edwards, was a biology major but, after searching for work in that area for five months, was only able to find a job in construction. Edwards says that he had thought his major was a “gold ticket” for getting him jobs; he is about $5,500 in debt, a significant sum but actually much less than is the case for a number of my students.

Debt from student loans — now totaling more than $1 trillion — is one of the main factors many graduating seniors are wary of applying to graduate school, however much they think, or they are told, a Master’s or additional degree might enhance their career prospects.

Humanities Majors Least Likely To Find Jobs Related To Their Education

Students majoring in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education. Those who studied nursing, teaching, accounting or computer science degrees were the most likely. In general, undergraduates who majored in the arts and humanities have had the greatest challenge finding positions in their fields, a finding again borne out by my own experience. I have very, very few students who major in my academic discipline, Classics. All three who did in the past seven years have become teachers, with only one so far now holding a full-time job teaching position.

The Associated Press‘s analysis also describes how technological changes since 2000 have eliminated, and will eliminate still more, midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. “Lower-skilled” positions such as that of home health care aide, positions in the fast food industry and truck driving — all of which are not as easily replaced by computers — are where most of the future job openings will be.

Are Colleges and Universities Failing to Prepare Students For Future Jobs?

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the data, says bluntly that “we’re failing kids coming out of college.” Harvard economist Richard Freeman even discounts what has been held as common knowledge, that going to college means you will make more money on average.

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11:11PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

Hey graduates, we've created a web site for you to post your resume at and get found. And we have new, relevant jobs that are being posted every day. Check out We created it for you - BA, MA, MBA's. Go now and post your resume and let's get you employed!

6:12AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Yep. Same situation in Canada.

8:27PM PDT on May 4, 2012

Sad,sad, sad situation...let the 1% solve this...!

5:21PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

I suppose the world has enough people with BA degrees. Do the work and get a sweet-ass BS (yes it's hard) and get a job when you graduate. Nobody cares what you think, but they will pay you for what you can do.

6:34PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012


7:47AM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

My son has a BS (BA? I'm not sure) in Food Science, the same in Environmental Science, a MA in Elem Ed and he's working part time at REI. Maybe the masters in Elem Ed handicaps him (they'd have to pay him more), I don't know. He wanted to go for a BA but the college said it had to be a MA. He's tried several different areas of the country, can't find a teaching job anywhere. Nothing wrong in his background. He's middle aged, happily married, half Chinese, speaks Chinese. Why can't he find a teaching job?

9:03AM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

One of our daughters obtained an undergrad degree in International Relations. What she found out was her BS degree would not get her a job in her field; she was told she needed a Masters to get a job and a PhD to get a good one in her field. Unfortunately she abandon her dream of working oversea in France and went to law school, at least she chose environmental law. Our other daughter fair better getting her undergrad in biology but was told she could go no further until she went on to grad school. I think this is becoming true in most specialty non-business professions.

If I had to do it over again I would get an undergrad in Humanities and a Master’s in something I was interested in and would get me a well paying job. This, in my humble opinion, is the best way to get a well rounded classic education and also gives one time to see what profession they would like to have a career. It has also been said that even businesses like to see graduates with undergrad in Humanities and an MBA; shows more critical thinking abilities and a more well-rounded education.

10:44PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

A star to Donna H. Jobs, like all resources in a finite world, are also finite. Growth has to stop sometime whether we want to face reality or not.

4:09PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

I hate the fact that it is so hard for college grads to find jobs, but this is nothing new, especially for minority graduates. I know as a young black graduating with a BA in the early 70's, it was hard to find a job, much less a good paying one. Most of the good paying jobs went to the white graduates, or to graduates who already had an in, due to family influence. To be fair thid didn't only happen to minority graduates, but also to whites who didn't already have an inside track, but even those white graduates tended to do better than minority students. The job market is tough now, but it has been for a long time.

4:03PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

I'm not really surprised. I despair of ever doing anything official with my own degree, let alone landing a decent job in this economy.
For the moment I've decided to make my own job-
I may not make a ton of money, but at least I'm using my degree and working for myself. Isn't that the best any artist could hope for in a society that consistently devalues art unless it's being used to sell consumer items?
At least I was lucky enough to get some grants and pay the remainder off quickly. [I graduated nearly a decade ago.]

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