College Graduate Unemployment Depends on Your Major

Saturday, January 07, 2012
Students who decided four or more years ago to major in nursing or teaching have fared a lot better in the job market than those who focused on computers, liberal arts or social sciences.
A new study by researchers at Georgetown University found that unemployment rates are relatively low (5.4%) for recent college graduates who majored in healthcare or education. The authors of the study say these former students have done better because their industries have been more stable or even growing during the lean economic times.
Psychology and social work grads also are doing okay, with unemployment rates of 7.3%, as are young people who majored in the life and physical sciences (7.7%).
The absolute lowest unemployment rates were all for health-related degrees, specifically treatment therapy professions (1.8%), nursing (1.9%), pharmaceutical sciences and administration (2.1%) and medical technology technicians (2.1%).
At the other end of the scale are architecture graduates, who have really suffered (13.9% unemployment) because of the collapse of the construction and home building industry. Things have been bad as well for information systems (11.7%), the arts (11.1%), humanities and liberal arts (9.4%), social science (8.9%) law and public policy (8.1%). Linguistics and comparative language graduates had an unemployment rate of 10.5%.
But even the worst-off college grads are better off than those who didn’t go to college. Those with only a high school diploma are enduring 22.9% unemployment, and high school dropouts are at 31.5%.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees are Created Equal (by Anthony P. Carnavale, Ban Cheah and Jeff Strohl, Georgetown University) (pdf)



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