Not a college grad? No job recovery for you

Workers with degrees benefit far more from economic improvement than those without them.

By Jason Notte Jan 25, 2013 10:28AM
Image: Portrait of young man in graduation gown with father on campus (Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images)Hey you, the know-it-all who laughed at college grads throughout the recession and called their degrees worthless: Let us know what the verdicts were on "Judge Joe Brown" today.

Despite the lusty anti-intellectual choruses that served as the soundtrack to the recent economic downturn, an increasing amount of evidence shows that a college degree or advanced version thereof actually comes in pretty handy.

Yes, there were more master's degree and doctorate holders on food stamps during the downturn than ever before, but they still made up just 1% of aid recipients and are now benefiting most from the ensuing economic recovery.

About 1.1 million more workers with master's, doctoral and professional degrees said they had jobs in 2012 than when the job market bottomed out in 2010. That's a 6.7% increase that, according to the Labor Department, is the fastest employment gain of any level of education during that span. Workers with bachelor's degrees didn't fare too badly, either, as their employment rate increased 5% from 2010 to 2012.

That's helping boost recent jobless numbers, as first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 last week to 330,000. That's the lowest level since January 2008. That doesn't mean everybody's getting back into the game, though. The 36% of American workers over 25 with a high school education or less started losing jobs in 2007 and just haven't stopped. About 767,000 fewer workers reported having a job in 2012 than they did in 2010, and 2 million workers in that demographic left the job market altogether during that span.

"Relative demand for highly educated workers is increasing," Jonathan Rothwell, senior research associate at the Brookings Institution, told CNNMoney. "There's a long-run shift in the economy toward more professional occupations, and it's mostly at the expense of blue-collar occupations."

Though many overqualified college graduates took low-wage jobs during the recession, Rothwell noted that over-educated workers earn 37% more than under-educated workers in the same field, and nearly always have lower unemployment rates. As of December, the Labor Department's unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor's degree or higher was 3.9%. Among high school graduates with no college experience, that rate jumped to 8%, while 11.7% of workers without a college degree went jobless.

Again, college degrees don't guarantee employment. They just make it a whole lot likelier.

More on moneyNOW

Jan 25, 2013 12:13PM

There is a huge defect in our thinking on how to solve problems facing us. Whether Gun control or jobs or poverty we throw all range and all characteristic in one basket and try to solve it. Scientifically this is stupid way to approach. Boeing on dream liner try to pin point the problem while on Gun control we spend lots of time on assault weapons whose contribution on killing is about 5 %. Gangs, Drugs, family disputes and sex are greatest contributors but are ignored.


Job problem is in lower half of employees. These whose group, half the total employed makes less than 25000 dollars a year and lots of problem are here. They do not have cushion like they portray in used and worry about 100,000 and 250,000  a year income.


Solution is simple and cheap. Government should finance these unemployed employment and target it at certain level, let us say 6 %. They should be offered jobs at private companies where employer pays only statutory taxes and Government pays 15000-25000 a year pay. We hope that our educated talent can come out with a system that is not exploitable. 100 Billion dollars a year will employ 5 million workers. That will create a positive atmosphere and these workers. when they get a better job can move out of system. Program can be ticked to employment level and stable unemployment level can be targeted.


Here what I am asking to spend is chicken feed than tax cut and other spending. However this is beyond the thinking of our brightest economist ad law makers. This is consider hand out to big businesses by Democrats and socialism by Republicans. So we are stuck in ideological morass and future of the country rots.

Jan 25, 2013 11:58AM
The jobs recovery has already happened...for those with marketable skills. Those without skills will struggle. It is fair.

In fact, it's hard to believe it was ever different in the past. High paying, union factory jobs was a pipe dream, I think. High pay for low skills? I think not. It was never sustainable.
Jan 25, 2013 11:33AM
A college degree is paramount in today's job market.  However, there is nothing wrong with learning or serving an apprenticeship and learning a good skill such as becoming a Plumber, Electrician, Optician, etc.  But, if one really wants to learn such a skill and be prosperous and go into business for themselves, they will need to learn additional skills such as working with customers and how to properly run the business in order to make a good living.  Nothing wrong with that route, but it can sometimes take longer, as a matter of time, then going to school for four or five years.
Jan 25, 2013 11:14AM

They make a good point.Those manufacturing jobs have been leaving this country

for over a generation and are not coming back.Education is the answer to most social

and economic problems in this country.

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