The Federal Reserve Bank of New York published a report titled “Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs,” in January 2014. In the report they stated that nearly 6% of recent college graduates are unemployed while almost 44% were underemployed. With states like that it is no wonder people would question the value of a college education. However that is not the end of the story. That same study by the Federal Reserve analyzed unemployment data for college graduates over the past 20 years and found that the current unemployment rates in recent college graduates are not that uncommon, “individuals just beginning their careers often need time to transition into the labor market.”
The underemployment rate did increase at higher rates since the Great Recession in 2008. The study went on to state that, “While it appears that the labor market has become more challenging for recent college graduates, it is much worse for young people who do not have a college degree.” This is due to the skill set that most companies are looking for in new hires. According to Robert Farrington, a contributor with Forbes.com, “Businesses across the country are struggling to even hire high school students and high school graduates because they don’t possess these soft skills, such as communication and problem solving.”
This sentiment is reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on earning and unemployment rates by educational attainment for persons 25 years old and older. The unemployment rate for persons with a Bachelor Degree was 4%, while the unemployed rate for persons with a high school diploma was 7.5% and 11% for persons with less than a high school diploma.
As the economy evolves we have shifted from an industrial workforce to a knowledge based workforce. We have shifted our focus from the liberal arts majors to technology and science based majors as a response to growing industries such as information technology, bio-tech and healthcare. As Michael Hemesath, St. John’s University President, states “These industries need employees who are flexible and can learn and adapt in a changing workplace. If higher education does its job well, college graduates learn to learn, which is what makes their economic prospects so hopeful over a lifetime.”
College is a commitment, both a time commitment and a financial commitment. Potential students should think about their end goal and how an education will help them achieve their goals. Michael Hemesath puts it best stating, “The decision to invest in education is about a career and a lifetime, not just that first entry-level job.”References