Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Tough Times for Liberal Arts Grads

Another article on how tough it is for recent college graduates to find a job, this time from the trusty Huffington Post.  The statistics look alarming:
But the job market is not so kind as to warmly receive the surplus of well-heeled graduates. The Economic Policy Institute puts the current unemployment rate for college graduates aged 16 to 24 at nine percent -- the highest number in 25 years. This leaves America's young people in the lurch, constantly searching for work of any kind, being forced to move back in with their parents and holding out hope that things will improve.

The article profiles ten recent or soon to be college graduates, including short videos from each of them discussing their employment difficulties.  Now get ready for a real surprise.  Of these ten job seekers profiled, not a single one is a math, technology (of any kind), science (of any kind), or engineering major.  They run the gamut from English to political science, to public relations, to journalism, to Spanish majors.  (There is one lone accounting major who has been looking for a job since 2004.  I'm not quite sure what to think of him, since the economy was in decent shape six years ago.  There's got to be more to his story.  Let's leave him out of the discussion.) 

Each of the majors profiled are difficult majors to get well paying jobs in when things are good, so it's not surprising that things are difficult now.  At least one of the profiled eschews jobs that are "beneath her."  Sigh.  I've gone on about this before, so I won't rehash prior arguments.  However, I feel like whenever I see articles on recent college grads having difficulty finding jobs, they are always in these difficult to employ in the best of times majors.  I've always been a realist when it comes to education and paying for education.  It makes little sense to me to pay four years of tuition to go into an area that isn't going to result in a job that is up to your pay standards.  (If you want to major in English, go for it, but don't expect to come out of college making a huge salary, or even in some cases, a living wage.) 

Is this high number of unemployed college graduates a result of the economy or simply a result of lack of demand for these types of liberal arts majors?  Are the math, engineering, science, and technology majors having as difficult a time as these folks?  It's hard to say, because I have yet to see one profiled or interviewed.  I would also be curious to know if whether the percentage of students graduating with technical degrees has decreased, while the percentage of students graduating with liberal arts degrees has increased, because that could also have an effect on the increased percentages of graduates with difficulty finding work.  At any rate, apparently the sky is falling.   

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