College Graduation and human capital

Which College Grads Have Unemployment Problems?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Jan 12, 2014    •    1786 Views

With a 6.7% unemployment rate and 74,000 jobs created for December, are you okay if you have a bachelor’s degree? I discovered some answers in a new paper from the NY Fed.

Unemployment and underemployment for recent college graduates have been unusually high. Yes, as the economy recovers, all college grads are faring better than other groups. However, the peak unemployment rate in 2010 was 5% for all people with bachelor’s degrees  and 7% for recent graduates, 22 to 27 years old. Correspondingly, the underemployment rate for recent college grads–those, for example, who are baristas and bartenders–has been rising.

The writers of this Current Issues Fed report remind us that new graduates have always had to deal with unemployment and underemployment. However, they conclude that now, finding a good job is unusually tough. And then they qualify it further saying really, it all depends on your major.

Their graphs were interesting and said it all.

Unemployment Rates for Selected Groups

But then, looking specifically at age, you can see that older college graduates have a lower unemployment rate.

Unemployment College Graduates by Age

Similarly, for underemployment, recent college grads fare the worst.

Underemployment Rate for College Graduates

But many college graduates whose majors prepare them for STEM jobs are flourishing.Employment Outcomes

Thinking economically, we can just add that a college diploma is all about the human capital that is vital for economic growth and innovation.

Sources and Resources: Looking beyond the numbers of the unemployment release, the NY Fed report on recent college grads provided insight while you might also want to look at econlife on the lifetime earnings of different college majors and the STEM gender gap for a new perspective.

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