Study: (Almost) Everything they say about major choice and unemployment is true

Employment graphicA recent study by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Center of Education and the Work Force reminded students that they should give up their dreams of becoming the next Foucault if they ever want to find a decent paying job.

The report, encouragingly titled “HARD TIMES,” used data from the American Community Survey for the years 2010 and 2011 as the basis for the study. It found that although college graduates above 25 are more likely to hold jobs than non-college graduates, what those graduates majored in greatly affects their employment rate and salary. Recent college graduates who hold bachelor’s degrees or higher still face unemployment rates “ranging from a low of 4.8 percent to a high of 14.7 percent depending on their major.”

The economic recession has not only stagnated job growth but also continues to hurt the housing market. Recent architecture graduates suffer from a 12.8 percent unemployment rate because of the continued fallout from the 2007 real estate bubble. Even those with experience in the field have a 9.3 percent unemployment rate, and only those with graduate degrees in architecture still suffer from a 6.7 percent rate.

The study also revealed that even degrees in technological majors are not guaranteed to provide job security. Unemployment in degrees dealing with computers and mathematics appears “mostly concentrated in information systems” with an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent for recent college graduates. Experienced graduates with information systems degrees, however, only have a 4.4 percent unemployment rate, suggesting that “hiring tends to be slower for users of information compared to those who write programs and create software applications.”

Graduates of the arts, unfortunately, will have to live off their passion for their subject instead of a paycheck after graduation. Recent film, video, and photographic arts graduates will enjoy an 11.4 percent unemployment rate while recent fine arts graduates will fare somewhat better with a 10.1 percent unemployment rate.

The most secure majors were education (unemployment rate of 5 percent), engineering (unemployment rate of 7 percent), and health and the sciences (unemployment rate of 4.8 percent) because those are the majors “tied to stable or growing industry sectors and occupations.”

Recent graduates in psychology and social work also enjoyed a relatively low unemployment rate of 8.8 percent because almost half of all recent graduates work in “healthcare or education sectors.”

Sadly, all of those Government majors at Georgetown might have difficulty finding a job after graduation because of that 11.1 percent unemployment rate for recent college graduates with no experience.

For students, the study is either a harsh reminder that “not all college degrees are created equal” or perhaps a justification for heaping some more hate on to those studying finance.

Image: Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce

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