Job Outlook for Bachelor's Degree Students Looks Bleak

By AccountingWEB Staff
 
A weak labor market has left half of college students (age twenty-five or younger) who graduated with a bachelor's degree either jobless or "underemployed."  
 
Analysis of government data conducted for the Associated Press reveals unequal prospects for holders of bachelor's degrees. The 2011 data revealed the following:
  • To a great degree, bachelor's degree graduates were represented in jobs that require only a high school diploma or less.
     
  • Approximately 1.5 million (53.6 percent) were jobless or underemployed. This is the highest percentage in eleven years; in 2000 it was 41 percent.
     
  • Among the underemployed, college grads were likely to be employed as: waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists, and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000); office workers, such as receptionists or payroll clerks, than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000); and cashiers, retail clerks, and customer service representatives than as engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
     
  • Only three of the thirty occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor's degree or higher ‒ teachers, college professors, and accountants.
     
  • Most job openings will be in retail sales, fast food, and trucking; jobs that aren't easily replaced by computers.
     
  • Zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history, and humanities grads are among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level, while those with nursing, teaching, accounting, or computer science degrees are among the most likely.
     
  • Jobs are primarily going to workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale rather than to middle-income jobs usually held by those with bachelor's degrees. 
The prospects for graduates who are likely to get higher-skill jobs vary widely by region. From best to worst, here's how they rate: 
  1. Southern states, anchored by Texas.
     
  2. Pacific states, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
     
  3. Rural southeastern states, including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
     
  4. Mountain West states, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Perhaps more than ever, the choices young adults make earlier in life ‒ level of education, academic field and training, where to attend college ‒ are having a long-lasting financial impact.

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