Let’s Invest More in College so its Graduates Can be Stuck in Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

We need to invest more in college education so that college graduates can get jobs that don’t require college degrees while paying off piles of student debt for an unnecessary college degree.

And that will help our colleges pay off their massive burden of debt. Welcome to the Obama Economy. (via Instapundit)

The recession left millions of college-educated Americans working in coffee shops and retail stores. Now, new research suggests their job prospects may not improve much when the economy rebounds.

Underemployment—skilled workers doing jobs that don’t require their level of education—has been one of the hallmarks of the slow recovery. By some measures, nearly half of employed college graduates are in jobs that don’t traditionally require a college degree.

Economists have generally assumed the problem was temporary: As the economy improved, companies would need more highly educated employees. But in a paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a team of Canadian economists argues that the U.S. faces a longer-term problem.

They found that unlike the 1990s, when companies needed hundreds of thousands of skilled workers to develop, build and install high-tech systems—everything from corporate intranets to manufacturing robots—demand for such skills has fallen in recent years, even as young people continued to flock to programs that taught them.

The problem isn’t just high tech skills. America does need more technical grads in some professions, unfortunately those professions are also glutted by low quality Third World students.

Meanwhile American students are wasting piles of money on unemployable non-technical degrees.

Brian Hackett, who graduated with honors from the College of New Jersey in 2010 with a political-science degree, is among those who haven’t found full-time work. Instead, the 25 year old works part-time doing clerical work and conducting phone interviews—and he is hardly the only one at his company with advanced credentials.

“There are people with master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees and even people with law degrees applying to work for $10 an hour,” Mr. Hackett said.

Well yes. Not exactly all that surprising. There’s a lawyer surplus and political science is a chancy specialty.

Better-educated workers still face far better job prospects than their less-educated counterparts. The unemployment rate for Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree was 3.8% in February, compared with 7.9% for those with just a high school diploma.

This slops together all degree holders. The actual unemployment stats are 4.5 for BA holders and 3.5 for MA holders. High school grad unemployment does top 8 percent, but student loan debt more than makes up for the difference in incomes.

And some degrees have whopping unemployment rates that are worse than those of High School dropouts.

  • 1. Clinical psychology 19.5%
  • 2. Miscellaneous fine arts 16.2%
  • 3. United States history 15.1%
  • 4. Library science 15.0%


Even pre-law has an unemployment rate almost as bad as High School grads.

  • JacksonPearson

    I can't seem to find "student loans" anywhere in the Constitution…Anyone?

  • AnOrdinaryMan

    College for many is a waste of time. Revive
    American manufacturing. Then demand for technical graduates will increase.

  • Rianna Richards

    This is sad, really.

  • Mary Sue

    Whatever happened to teaching kids to go into the trades, like being an electrician, or a welder?

    • Lee Reynolds

      The public was sold on the notion that "everyone" should go to college, even though not everyone is college material. As more and more less than brilliant people have headed off to college, schools have lowered their academic standards, sometimes dramatically. Entire degree programs have been created from whole cloth to give students busy work for four or five years. Why? Because the schools covet the government grants and loans those students bring in. It is like welfare almost.

      People who in generations past would have learned to be welders or electricians now headed off to a 4 year university where they studied things that are of no use to anyone, all in the name of getting a piece of paper that they were convinced would guarantee them gainful employment.


      College: It puts the BA in Barista!

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Most of the degrees aren't worth the paper they are written on. Aside from the hard sciences & engineering they are nothing short of indoctrination courses. As a mother who paid a fortune to educate her sons, at MIT & Caltech, had they wanted to study the humanities, my response would have been: boys, go learn a trade!

    As such, my humble opinion is, don''t waste your hard earned money, unless they will come out with marketable degrees, free of brain washing – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/08/21/the-paradox-p

    A western tragedy! BTW, Ayers (via Soros) is behind much of the academic disaster – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/12/25/domestic-terr

    Adina kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Gus

      Ok but with people that have brilliant minds but not in hard sciences and that don't want to be manual workers? Having to choose only between hard sciences and dirty hands is a bit too reductive!

      • Lee Reynolds

        There is still need for someone with the traditional skills that a liberal arts education USED to provide. Namely critical thinking skills…which is precisely what modern liberal arts "education" seeks to destroy. It is, after all, difficult to convince anyone of any age to buy into the various sophistries of the left when they are in possession of critical thinking skills. There is only so far down the garden path such a person can be led before they stop, turn around, and walk briskly back the other way.

        If someone knows how to read something, understand it, and evaluate its merits, then they are ahead of the game. If someone has the ability to communicate well in person and through writing, then they are also ahead of the game.

        These are the skills that a rigorous liberal arts education used to foster….but no longer. The labor market has gotten wise to this fact and graduates with liberal arts degrees are no longer considered more valuable than their contemporaries who only graduated from high school.

  • Danny

    "America does need more technical grads in some professions, unfortunately those professions are also glutted by low quality Third World students."

    If I go to an engineering school or get a job with a high-tech company, I want to see more white faces, damn it.

    • granny

      No, the translation is, "If I go to an engineering school or get a job with a high-tech company, I want to see more AMERICAN faces!"

      • John

        Anybody else notice that those low quality third world students have higher GPAs?

    • Lee Reynolds

      I too was disgusted to see the 3rd world students described as low quality. Many of them have cultural barriers that impair their ability to function in our society, but they are not low quality people. Neither do they have low quality minds.

      There is a certain initiative and willingness to experiment and do things by the seat of your pants here in America that is lacking in many other cultures. Americans are also more willing to admit when we don't know something. We'll go out and beat on a problem in an almost random way, find a solution, and then come back to the blackboard later on to formalize what we did. This is unusual in much of the world.

      These are CULTURAL traits however, not genetic ones. The 2nd generation Americans I know whose families come from these 3rd world countries possess these traits.

      I prefer to work with Americans, or at least with people from a western culture that possesses some of these traits. Indians and Chinese, not so much, unless of course they are Americans themselves who grew up here, in which case they're just like any other American.

  • Guest

    Hard science degree is not a good job guarantor. A few months back, at a get together, a young man complained that he cannot find a job and will try to get advanced degree to help his chances. We all lectured him about the folly of getting liberal arts degree only to hear that his degree was in biomedical engineering. We were all stunned. He explained that for every job he applied there were hundreds of better qualified candidates with experience or masters degrees.
    My sons and their friends have science or engineering degrees and they all work in the financial sector.
    For engineers to have jobs you need manufacturing; no manufacturing, no jobs.

    • Lee Reynolds

      Your sons and their friends work in the financial sector because finance is MATH and the ability to think a situation through step by step in a logical manner.

  • Guest

    "Pre-law" isn't a major, it doesn't belong here. This piece offers nothing in the way of analysis–and somehow the fact that unemployment rates *are* lower for higher ed graduates is being depicted as a failure.

  • tagalog

    A guy who graduated with honors as a Political Science major has a crappy job right out college?

    In a bad economy?

    Wow, what a surprise.

    • Lee Reynolds

      I don't understand people who go to school and study nothing.

      If someone can't use what they have learned to solve problems in order to create wealth, then they have a degree in TRIVIA. By create wealth I do not mean college a paycheck. I mean create actual wealth, from which a paycheck is derived. Creating wealth means creating VALUE. If someone has degree that doesn't help them do that, why should anyone hire them?

      I have a friend who got a poli-sci degree, but he was planning on going to law school. As a degree unto itself it is of no value whatsoever.

  • Ken Smith

    Prospects for recent grads seeking teaching jobs are not good. A woman I know graduated last year with a master's in Education. She has all the necessary credentials but no experience. Market is glutted with laid off teachers who have experience – and union connections. She "earned" a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing in 1999. Couldn't find a job or feelance successfully so had to resort to available work as an EMT and bus driver. Wanted to do better so borrowed the money and got the teaching credentiials. Looks like she'll be doing EMT or bus driving again – if she's lucky.

    • Lee Reynolds

      This is a short term situation for her. She has a degree that is actually of value. If she works at it, she will be able to find a job as a teacher….eventually. She should look for internships. They don't pay, but they pad the resume well.

  • Jim

    "Let’s Invest More in College so its Graduates Can be Stuck in Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees"

    But look how many liberal arts majors we can employ at these colleges! That's important work!

  • LockesChild

    Full employment loans for university staff is what it is all about. They see the motherlode that is the future earning of their suckers (oops, I meant students) going to them all guaranteed by the federal government. A great deal.

    After all, no one actually makes anything in the USA any longer. Too dirty. Better to work at Starbucks and buy goods from China

    • Lee Reynolds

      We do make things, but the things we make are not material goods. We make Google. We make Microsoft. We make Yahoo and Facebook and all of the other software and computer service products that are such a large part of the modern economy.

      If someone doesn't have the brainpower necessary to participate in this, they're better off learning to be a plumber. We need plumbers. We don't need people with degrees in Women's Studies.

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