NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Job Market Smiles on The Educated

August 30, 2002

Job seekers holding college degrees are weathering the economic downturn and troubled recovery with surprisingly good fortune. Unlike their unfortunate counterparts -- those lacking even a high school diploma -- the brightest are finding work.

  • Employment among college graduates has increased by more than 1.1 million jobs in the last year -- even as less educated workers saw 2 million jobs lost.
  • The unemployment rate among college graduates in July was 2.9 percent -- while the rate among workers lacking a high school degree was 8.7 percent.
  • Employees with a bachelor's degree earn an average of about $50,000 annually -- while those who have graduated high school earn only about $27,000.
  • Employment specialists report that a college degree today is what a high school degree used to be -- a minimum employment criterion.

"Employers are looking to bring in ideas and intellectual property, rather than raw skills," comments Bank One's Diane Swonk.

Source: Stephanie Armour, "Downturn Goes Easier on College-Educated Workers," USA Today, August 29, 2002.


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