new study provides a dramatic answer to the question
nagging potential college students: Is college worth it?
short answer is yes, according to a study from the
Georgetown University Center on Education and the
the first time in U.S. history, people with college
degrees make up a larger portion of the workforce than
those with high school diplomas, the report found. And
the recovery from the 2007-09 recession has barely made
a dent in bringing back the jobs people with high school
diplomas used to count on for decent pay and benefits.
the economy has created 11.6 million new jobs since the
recession, 11.5 million have gone to workers with at
least some education beyond high school, said Anthony
Carnevale, director of the center and author of the
study done with Tamara Jayasundera and Artem Gullish.
addition, workers with some postsecondary education have
captured the vast majority of the good jobs, the
researchers said. They define "good" jobs as
those that are full time, pay more than $53,000 a year
and provide benefits such as health insurance and
with bachelorís degrees, or higher, now make up 36
percent of the workforce. The workers with high school
diplomas are less than 34 percent of the workforce. Thatís
down 5 percentage points from 2007, when the economy
began to crash.
the 7.2 million jobs lost in the recession, about 5.6
million of the jobs that vanished had been held by
people with high school diplomas or less. And they have
recovered only 1 percent of those jobs over the past six
years, the researchers note. Only 80,000 jobs held by
workers with high school diplomas or less have been
added since the recession.
has been "no growth of well-paying jobs with
benefits" for the group that didnít go beyond
high school, Carnevale said. The result has been an
increasingly divided country, with "college haves
and college have-nots," he said. The people with
college degrees have incomes that have averaged 80
percent more than high school graduates over a lifetime.
nation still is feeling the hangover from the recession.
The economy still is missing 6 million jobs that would
have been created if the recession hadnít occurred, he
said, and construction employment is still 1.6 million
jobs short of its 2007 level, while manufacturing has 1
million fewer jobs. Construction and manufacturing in
the past have provided some of the best jobs for workers
at lower education levels.
Carnevale does not see the current job and income divide
as a short-term issue resulting from the rough years set
in motion by the recession. While the recession sped up
job losses in industries such as manufacturing,
Carnevale has traced the erosion of opportunity for
people without college degrees to the 1980s.
jobs require more elaborate skills than they once did.
For example, he said a person with a high school diploma
used to make a fine auto mechanic if he had good
mechanical skills. Now, computers are key to operating
cars, so mechanics need electronic skills as well. The
same applies to the factory floor.
growth in jobs now is in health care, consulting,
business, education, government and financial services.
Those industries accounted for 28 percent of the
workforce in 1947, and now account for 46 percent, the
old-style service jobs such as clerical work have been
cut sharply because computers now make it possible for
managers to do their own typing and take on
responsibilities once done by clerical staff.
said critics of college did not seem to realize that
people with high school diplomas or less had
unemployment rates about 22 percent. Also workers who
had graduated from college lost about $5,000 a year in
wages compared to $6,000 for those with no college.
Carnevale said, income data make it clear that "if
you donít go to college, you will do a lot
worse." But while true on average, people
evaluating future education need to see choices as more
complex than simply going to college or not going to
going to college, the choice of majors and careers is
also critical to outcomes, he said.
who major in the humanities, early childhood education
or psychology have a 30 to 40 percent chance of not
making any more than high school graduates, he said.
if college graduates in the humanities get masterís
degrees, they raise their pay. Meanwhile, engineers do
better with bachelorís degrees than masterís
degrees. Thirty percent of people with two-year
associate degrees make more than college graduates, and
those with certificates in heating and ventilation and
computers do especially well.
study notes that the number of jobs for workers with
associate degrees or some college has increased by 47
percent since 1989, to 43.5 million from 30 million.
Meanwhile, jobs for people with bachelorís degrees or
higher has doubled, to 54.2 million from 26 million.
jobs for workers with high school diplomas or less
declined by 13 percent over the same period, with a loss
of 7.3 million jobs.