Chart: Long Term Unemployment by Educational Level

Chart: Long Term Unemployment by Educational Level



This eye opening chart comes to us from an article in Bloomberg Business by Gail Degeorge which highlights a recent report by the BLS. According to the article those without a college degree were three times more likely to suffer unemployment. Perhaps that doesn’t surprise us. Interestingly, however, unemployed the college degree seems to have little impact on one’s ability to find employment quickly.

To quote the author, “… once you’re out of work, being better educated barely seems to improve your chances of finding a new job within half a year…. Of those ages 25 or older with at least a bachelor’s degree who were jobless last year, 37.7 percent were out of work 27 weeks or longer. That compares with 38.3 percent for those who didn’t finish high school.” This certainly should give pause to those who think that a college degree is a sure ticket to better employment, or to today’s point, consistent employment. 

What can we learn from the study if we wish to avoid this fate? Yet again we see correlation to “real world” success and one’s major in college. Previous charts have shown us that those majoring in humanities, psychology, and the arts suffer lower pay than college graduates in general while those majoring in fields such as science and engineering enjoy higher than average pay. So too in this study do we see these groups of majors showing up again on opposite sides of the employment/unemployment divide.

The point? We must listen to those who would positively link college graduation and employment prospects with a grain of salt. Contrary to popular opinion it’s not a degree that counts in this area, so much as the type of degree or the major. As a rule of thumb you can expect Bachelors of Science (BS) graduates to out-earn and out-employ their Bachelors of Arts (BA) counterparts. Those pursuing a BA degree must do so circumspectly and with utmost caution, never taking justifying debt-covered expenses with the justification the job market will justify the decision.