Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities. From The Center For College Affordability.

Increasing numbers of recent college graduates are ending up in relatively low-skilled jobs that, historically, have gone to those with lower levels of educational attainment. This study examines this phenomenon in some detail, concluding:

  • About 48 percent of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests requires less than a four-year college education. Eleven percent of employed college graduates are in occupations requiring more than a high-school diploma but less than a bachelor’s, and 37 percent are in occupations requiring no more than a high-school diploma.
  • The proportion of overeducated workers in occupations appears to have grown substantially; in 1970, fewer than one percent of taxi drivers and two percent of firefighters had college degrees, while now more than 15 percent do in both jobs.
  • About five million college graduates are in jobs the BLS says require less than a high-school education.



  1. I'll hazard two guesses:

    (a) You didn't used to be able to get a B.A. with less than a high-school reading and writing level. Employers are beginning to figure this out.

    (b) Employers aren't willing to teach new employees, partly because said new employees have never learned how to learn, nor valued learning. So employers won't hire you unless you have a very particular set of skills.

  2. I don't want to pour boiling oil on the Macy's Parade, but CCAP is run by Richard Vedder, a writer over at "The National Review." For those that don't follow American politics, that magazine was founded by William F. Buckley, the now-dead Dean of the American conservative movement. He was also a former CIA agent....

    One of the great pillars of post-1968 conservative ideology has been the belief that the colleges are "indoctrinating" people with a liberal worldview, and that if the places could be privatized, conservatism would rule the day. They forget that their own movement is heavily bankrolled by rich gits like the Koch brothers, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Coors people, and Richard Meillon Scaife - take away that swag, and their "movement" collapses. At this point, trying to kick over the colleges is more about making a buck, and less about ideology; it should be pointed out that this smokescreen is distracting us from the real problems of a student loan industry at the breaking point and the coming collapse of the for-profit college industry.

    1. When was Vedder a CIA agent? Buckley Jr. was, but I'm almost positive Vedder was not.

    2. OK, Strel, you connected the article, author, author's magazine job, political views of the magazine and rich people who support that ideology. You only forgot one thing:

      Where does Kevin Bacon fit into all of this?

    3. "When was Vedder a CIA agent? Buckley Jr. was, but I'm almost positive Vedder was not."

      I should have used "WFB" or "Buckley" or "[t]hat pickled former host of 'Firing Line'" instead of "He."

      I could've also brought up that Buckley was a supporter of the Tea Party's predecessor, the John Birch Society, until their founder, Robert Welch, "turned on the weird idea faucet" as Dan Kelly put it in his short history* of the JBS which appeared in "The Baffler", whose office in Chicago burned to the ground about a year later.


      * "Birchismo"; it appeared in the collection "Boob Jubilee: The Cultural Politics of the New Economy" (2003.)

    4. I guess I should have figured that out. Read it too quickly, perhaps.

    5. Ah, so that's who runs that place. I knew I strongly objected to their assumptions, their recommendations, and their underlying politics, but I didn't know the full story. Interesting.

  3. Yeah, this article must be some conservative fantasy. It makes absolutely no sense that all those wonderful students we talk about here would only be competent at jobs below their level of education credentials.