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Unemployment Tied to College Majors, Study Finds


January 13, 2012

Unemployment Tied to College Majors, Study Finds

By: Chris

A new report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce looks at the connection between unemployment and college majors. The report found that:

  • The risk of unemployment for recent graduates varies considerably depending on their major: The highest rate is among architecture graduates (13.9 percent) due to the collapse of the construction and home-building industries in the recession. At the same time, unemployment is generally higher for non-technical majors, such as the arts (11.1 percent) or social sciences (8.9 percent), while those with the lowest rates of unemployment have degrees in health (5.4 percent), education (5.4 percent), and agriculture and natural resources (7 percent).
  • Median earnings among recent college graduates vary from $55,000 among engineering majors to $30,000 in the arts, as well as psychology and social work.
  • People who make technology are better off than people who use technology: For recent graduates in math and computing, unemployment is low for specialists who can write software and invent new applications (6%), but still comparatively high (11.2 percent) for those who use software to manipulate, mine and disseminate information.
  • Unemployment is lowest where the ties between majors and occupations are highest:Unemployment rates are relatively low (5.4 percent) for recent graduates in engineering, the sciences, education, or healthcare-related majors because they are tied to stable or growing industry sectors and occupations.

These findings make a strong case for better coordination between educators and workforce stakeholders. Students need to understand how their educational choices directly impact their job prospects. The strength of CTE is that it not only directly aligns education and training to specific careers, but it also provides students with training for “in-demand” careers and sets them on the path to good paying jobs.

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