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.

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Jan 29, 2013 12:17AM
I don't have a good eduction and I always had low paying jobs that I worked hard at, that said if you are every able to help someone better themselves do it! We are in this together,,my daughter makes more money at a sports bar then she has been offered on interviews yup she has some college to pay for not much though I paid for most of it.Its not how much you make sometimes it how much you save. Peace!
Jan 28, 2013 8:16PM
This is such crap.  The great degree lie that has been fed and forced on this country. and now is so ingrained that people think that unless you have a degree, you cannot find the light to the bathroom.

To say that these grads are better off and will be better off is misleading.  I have yet to not find a college grad who is not working in a unrelated, non degree position due to not being able to find a job  that they were convinced they would get if they went to college. 

Jan 28, 2013 10:39AM

Well i hate to burst your bubble, but not going to University/College was the best thing I ever did..

I started out with not a dime to my name, at 18.


Now at 29, I have my own business, turning over a healthy profit, and have no debt aside from a mortgage on my awesome riverside apartment. I drive a new car, owned outright.


I employ other graduates who not only have the unenviable position of paying back a house-worth of debt, but coming out at 22-23 have no real world experience under their belt where as I now have 11years solid experience. If myself and one of these grads go up for the same role, all the employer would care about in the real world is; Who is more experienced and who is best qualified to do the job required? If i'm hiring for a developer role, do i want a college grad with no experience or someone with no degree but a wealth of successful deliveries under their belt?


Being in business isn't about having a nice degree; it's about making money and you either have that skill or you don't .. and no college degree can teach you that valuable lesson! :)





Jan 25, 2013 10:32PM
I'm not a college grad and I have the same job as when the economy tanked in '08.  As a skilled laborer, I do alright.  How droll to say that there is no job recovery for non college grads.  Also keep in mind that the economy and job market have not recovered yet and may not get back to the pre '08 level for some time yet. 
Jan 25, 2013 5:39PM
I have worked in the trades all my life  paid off two homes and rent  one out. All my cars are paid for and no other dept. And best of all I had NO student loans thank god. I was lucky to work on a more level playing field.Now a days blue collar workers have it much harder. I wish you all the best, I will be retiring next year. Happy to be getting out now.
Jan 25, 2013 3:15PM
Hiring kids with college degrees is kinda like buying products with  UL  / ETL  (electrical ) approval.

Less chance of getting shocked.

Jan 25, 2013 2:55PM
Not sure what the author of this article is trying to say. I have a college a degree and worked in public service for my career. Many of the posts I read I
Jan 25, 2013 2:53PM
Apparently people have a hard time with reading comprehension in this country as well as thinking their personal experience is equivalent to everyone's personal experience (it isn't, that's why we have statistics & science instead of personal revelation).  The facts are, the more education you have, the better your odds of getting a job (especially one with higher pay).  While one of the smartest men I've ever met is self-educated and well-read he currently is underemployed, underpaid, without insurance and lacking in the  basic understanding of science and mathematics everyone gets with a bachelor's degree.  A bachelor's degree by itself is already worthless & the equivalent of a H.S. diploma which merely means you need MORE education.  Unless you want to work manual labor your entire life you need an education.  Manual labor ages you, tends to be dangerous and worse as unions become a thing of the past will pay less & less.  There are always exceptions but they are spectacular because they ARE exceptions.   The more education you have, the more options you have.  Anyone with an average IQ can get a bachelor's.  It is amazing how hard work evens the playing field when it comes to IQ.
Jan 25, 2013 2:52PM

It's the stigma of being smarter that college grads get that holds non college grads back, not that they are better qualified.

Jan 25, 2013 2:48PM

We are not in recovery.. Those numbers don't reflect seasonal hiring during the holidays. California still has high unemployment numbers. Getting a degree will not give you a leg up when companies are looking to hire in at the lowest dollar possible. The problem is people are starting to accept low wages as the new norm. Employers are milking this desperation and exploiting it. I know former collegues working for peanuts now who used to make six figures. Their skills are the same now as then only this recession has made fear a useful tool to exploit. Our economy will never recover fully if we are a nation of low wage service workers.

Jan 25, 2013 2:31PM
this Article can also spin on why American capitalist outsource  their overseas manufacturing.

(hint:  more cheaper and more educated )

Jan 25, 2013 2:23PM
i work in construction and have no degree am a superintendent make around 100.000 a year, have had to train people with degrees in construction because they had no field experience just book smart and a degree. i worked my **** off for 30 years to get to were i am and some punk with a degree comes in for the same pay but i have to train them not right
Jan 25, 2013 2:21PM



Education is necessary but not sufficient condition to manage modern technological economy. There are only so many people needed to feel high production less human capital jobs.


To solve education we need a revolution. Current system is cumbersome, costly and inefficient. We need people with finding solutions from information data base. We need self actualized guidance driven teaching where teacher is a guide and not a static bureaucrat who generally is a baby sitter who lethargically at slow space lectures that if student want to learn, learn or do not.


Education should be much much cheaper when most of the info is on internet. We also need to free up information from artificial barriers. There should be lot shorter time limit on ownership of proprietary information, trademarks, patents.


We need to train some of our students in foreign countries. FOreign countries can train doctors for 50000 dollars. We  need 500,000. We have shortage of doctors and greater shortage in minority community. We can afford to train qualified blacks , hispanics in foreign countries at much cheaper cost and serve those communities better. By sending our students on much larger scale to foreign courtiers we create know how of needs and way of conducting business there and increase our future potential for export and product design.


This is not a place for whole article but above is the general direction we need to go.

Jan 25, 2013 2:17PM

Colleges and the Alum force this (College Degree) requirement on corporations and our society. Corporations will not interview or even accept resumes from any candidate without a college degree. As a small business owner my best talent doesn't have a college degree. We are a white collar company and require skilled people with a high level of accountability and skill.  I have fired 5 college grads in the past 4 months as the non grads out perform on every skill level versus the college grads.


My views are shared by many in the business community, as I see too many lazy, underperforming college grads who take for granted their degree gives them a my book personal character, performance and accountability is what I value.....not a college degree....

Jan 25, 2013 2:17PM

I am sure there are lots of companies standing in line to hire English, or Art history majors, or the like.

I have a two year degree and have been more successful through out the years than most college grads I know. It is WHICH degree you get. But I guess if your looking for someone to flip burgers, it would be nice if they can quote Shakespeare.

Jan 25, 2013 2:09PM
My stepdaughter graduated not too long ago and she's working at ****'s Brewhouse as a Hostess. Tell her her college comes in handy finding a job.
Jan 25, 2013 1:58PM
If you are over 50 in this economy, even multiple college degrees don't help you much.  If I had it to do over again, I would have learned to be an electrician or a plumber.
Jan 25, 2013 1:18PM

So what do we do with the people who either can't afford a degree or don't have the IQ to get one? There are thousands of them. Also, if everyone has a degree you will have 5,000 applicants for 50 jobs good luck there.


When will business learn that the real cost for cheap products, not made in the US? They take the jobs from americans who need them and then *itch because they don't get a job. Makes me wonder what end of their body they are talking out.


Jan 25, 2013 1:16PM
First, I do have a College degree that has opened doors. But looking at the big picture, saying a person will see "no job recovery" because they do not have a degree is invalid. Fast forward 10 or 20 years, when the vast majority of new workers have College Degrees (like in India for instance); there will be nothing to set applicants apart except possibly, Experience?

At that point, a College Degree will be much like a HS Diploma was here in the 20th Century, and the greatest opportunities may just lie in countries with lesser academic resources - China being one of them. In 40 years of working various jobs, it has usually been much more Who-You-Know, than What-You-Know,  to get, keep, and advance in most professional positions.

Jan 25, 2013 1:11PM
Paying the dumbest among us have babies is the worst start in life, but it makes more demos.
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