NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Predicted Shortage of College Grads Didn't Materialize

September 6, 2002

During the 1990s, official projections from the Department of Education seemed to show an impending decline in the number of new college graduates. For example, a department report issued in 1997 projected that the number of new bachelor's degrees granted each year would actually decline for the rest of the 1990s.

The feared shortage of educated workers appeared to bode ill for future U.S. competition in the global economy.

But the shortage never arrived.

  • The latest Education Department data show that the number of new college graduates continued to increase in the second half of the 1990s.
  • It estimates that 1.3 million bachelor's degrees will be granted in 2002.
  • That's 10 percent higher than was forecast five years ago.
  • Moreover, the number of recipients of associate degrees this year is expected to be 14 percent higher than previously forecast.

The problem now is finding jobs for that unexpectedly large wave of new grads.

Source: Michael J. Mandel, "Economic Trends: College Grads: Not So Scarce," Business Week, September 9, 2002.


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