Higher Education’s False Promise
August 19, 2021
What should we do about the educated underemployed?
Is the United States producing an overeducated class with few prospects of holding a job commensurate with their education?
That appears to be the case.
Brandeis economist Nader Habibi wrote that too many politicians and parents ignore “an inconvenient truth: a large number of graduates in recent years have not been able to find well-paying jobs that actually require a degree.” Just prior to the pandemic, 40 percent of recent graduates worked in jobs for which they were overeducated.
Nor, for many graduates, is this simply a temporary, transitional phase. Habibi cites a 2014 study by economists affiliated with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that found that since 1990, at least 30 percent of all workers (aged 22 to 65) with college degrees were consistently employed in jobs that do not require a college degree 10 years after graduation.
A 2015 analysis of earnings reported on the College Scorecard by Kevin Carey found that more than half of students at hundreds of colleges earned just $25,000 10 years after enrolling.