Business, Economics and Jobs

College graduate job market: Half of people with bachelor's degrees can't find work


Columbia University campus.


Alexander Besant

College degrees appear to be no match for a weak job market: 1 in 2 college graduates are jobless or underemployed, according to an analysis of government data conducted for the Associated Press.  

While people with bachelor's degrees are still finding jobs, the AP found that much of those jobs are low-paying and do not require a degree. Overall, 53.6 percent of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed last year, putting employment figures for this group at the "lowest level in more than a decade," the AP said.

The AP said that new jobs now are mostly going to "workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale," at the expense of people seeking middle-income jobs.

As a result, it's not just college grads, but all potential middle-income earners who are suffering. “We have seen this occupation polarization taking place for a number of years now,” an expert told Bloomberg News this month. The AP report follows the news last week that CEOs at top companies make about 380 times more than the average worker. 

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Experts have debated the value of college degrees for the past several years. Time magazine reported in 2009 that too many students are being pushed to attend universities, even in cases where they might be better-served by other options. 

The New York Times also reported last year that only half of college graduates are finding jobs that actually require a college degree. 

People with humanities' degrees have been hit especially hard, according to the new AP report.

The amount of students pursuing humanities degrees are shrinking, the Daily Tar Heel reported. At Yale University, fewer students are majoring in English, American studies and literature than they were 10 years ago, according to Yale Daily News

But even a recent graduate who majored in biology can't find work. "I thought that me having a biology degree was a gold ticket for me getting into places, but every other job wants you to have previous history in the field," he told the AP.