Graduating from college may not always be the ticket to a high-paying job, but it is a ticket to a job. The unemployment rate for recent college grads, defined as grads ages 22 to 27, is 3.8%, the lowest rate since September 2008 and below the national jobless rate of 4.1%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s latest report on the labor market for recent college graduates.
The unemployment rate for college grads is also just under half the 7.7% for that same age group without a college degree.
The U.S. Census Bureau and American Community Survey from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS-USA) were the sources for the New York Fed data.
Median salaries for recent graduates were $40,000; for mid-career grads, age 35 to 45, they were $65,000.
Not surprisingly, some of the jobs with the highest underemployment rates, which essentially measures the employment of overqualified grads or part-time workers who want to be full-time, also paid the least for early career employment, including performing arts, leisure and hospitality, and anthropology. That suggests those graduates were unable to find full-time work or work commensurate with their education, which could be either in their field of study or in another field — think of the acting major who is a waitress.
Mid-career wages are a different story. Education majors, including early childhood, elementary and secondary education as well as special ed, are among the majors with the lowest initial unemployment and underemployment rates but also the lowest mid-career wages, even though most education majors are more likely to have graduate degrees than engineering majors.
Low wages are a key issue behind recent teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona.
Check out the gallery above for the college majors with the worst (or highest) unemployment rates for recent college graduates and their median salaries.
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