Workplace Trends

College Degree Cuts Unemployment in Half

By Lee Hecht Harrison on January 10, 2013

In December 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate for college graduates was 3.9 percent – less than half the average of workers with only a high school diploma (8 percent unemployment). For those without a high school diploma, unemployment is 11.7 percent. Source: BLS.

And according to a study by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, salaries also increased significantly with a worker’s level of education.  In 2011, the typical worker with a bachelor’s degree earned about $1,000 a week, roughly two-thirds more than those with a high school diploma.

With reports of recent college grads moving back in with mom and dad or serving up lattes while they look to land a “real” job, this is comforting news on the value of education.  In other words, education still gives workers a huge competitive advantage.

If you think the lack of a degree is holding you back, it’s never too late. Consider this:

  • Many colleges and universities offer the flexibility of evening, weekend and online classes as part of accelerated degree programs.
  • Some employers offer tuition reimbursement to defray the cost of college coursework.
  • Community colleges provide an affordable alternative to more expensive four-year schools.
  • Check out the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook for trends in employment and choose your course of study to align with job market needs.
  • If unemployed, check with your unemployment office to see if any training and/or educational funds are available for displaced workers.

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