Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How many college graduates have jobs that don't require a college degree? You might be surprised.

Last April, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released an analysis of labor-market conditions for college graduates. Here is what it found:

  • In 2015, almost 45 percent of recent college graduates (graduates aged 22 through 27) were working in jobs that do not require a college degree.
  • Around 35 percent of all graduates (graduates aged 22 through 65) were holding down jobs that don't require a college education.
  • Wages for recent college graduates have remained relatively flat from 1990 to 2015.
So what do these numbers mean for young Americans?

College is not a good bet for everyone. First, although the college industry and their advocates (Brookings Institution, etc.) like to remind us that people who graduate from college make more money over their lifetimes than people who only have high school diplomas, going to college is not a good bet for everyone.

As the New York Fed has shown us, darn near half of recent college graduates are working in jobs they could have gotten without going to college. Of course many recent graduates will eventually find jobs that require a college degree. But even among the college-educated population as a whole, about one third of college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a college education.

 The payoff for getting a college degree is not as good as it once was. Second, wages for college graduates have remained about the same for the past 25 years--about $45,000 in constant 2015 dollars. But the cost of going to college has tripled over the last quarter of a century. That's why about two thirds of college graduates leave school with college-loan debt.

Thus, you may still need to go to college to earn a decent income, but a larger share of that income is going to go to servicing student loans.  In other words, recent college graduates are not as well off financially as their counterparts were 1990 because a majority of them are graduating with a significant amount of debt.

The case for a free college education gets stronger and stronger. People laughed at Bernie Sanders when he argued for a free college education from a public college for anyone who wants one. But, as I have repeatedly pointed out, Bernie's plan would actually cost less than the current federal loan program, because millions of people aren't paying off their loans.

Now Bernie is gone--swept away in the California primary election, and the higher education community can look at this idea afresh without fear of undermining their favorite presidential candidate--Hillary Clinton.

And lo and behold, the Brookings Institution published a paper today by a couple of croakers named Morley Winograd and Michael Hais that suggests free college might be a good thing.

And it would be a good thing. Certainly offering a free college education would be better than Hilary's scheme to pump billions of dollars more into a higher education system that is corrupt, obsolete, inefficient, and horribly overpriced.

References

The Labor Market for Recent College Graduates. Federal Reserve Bank f New York, 2016. Accessible at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/college-labor-market/index.html

Mathew Boesler. More College Grads Finding Work, But Not in the Best Jobs. Bloomberg.com, April 7, 2016. Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-07/more-college-grads-finding-work-but-not-in-the-best-jobs

Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. The Democrats' Generation Gap. Brookings Institution, Jun 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2016/06/03-millennials-democrats-election-2016-winograd-hais?utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=30380706&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8kyQSbZyUfxh-t2hnsxhvRRXvUp2j0eORShy09EK-7-HQpeIdEwoZaQ1CXQ3fR5CAxWRHk2cBWPTT6cCkIOO74q4BLUw&_hsmi=30380706

 Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. The Democrats' Generation Gap, Mike and Morley web site, June 6, 2016. http://www.mikeandmorley.com/the_democrats_generation_gap


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