Since roughly half the jobs lost when the recession first hit have been regained, nearly all of those positions require some type of post-secondary education, according to a recent study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
For respondents with at least bachelor’s degrees, the wage advantage over respondents with only high school diplomas has remained high and stable at 97 percent. In fact, the wage premium for bachelor’s degrees or higher as opposed to high school degrees jumped from 44 percent in 1981 to 100 percent in 2005 while only falling to 97 percent during the onset of the recession.
“It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education,” says Anthony P. Carnevale, the Georgetown Center’s director and co-author of the report. “At a time when more and more people are debating the value of postsecondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree.”
Seven percent of respondents holding at least bachelor degrees remain unemployed while 14 percent are underemployed in positions under their skill levels. Still, the unemployment rate for respondents who recently graduated high school is 24 percent and 42 percent for those who are underemployed.
Jobs requiring some college or an associate degree dropped by 1.8 million during the recession but have added 1.6 million of those job losses since the recovery while 5.8 million jobs for those with high school diplomas or less have been lost since the recession began, the study finds.
“In the mid-1970s, less than 30 percent of jobs in America required any education beyond high school,” says Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “Today, the majority of U.S. jobs require a postsecondary degree or credential. This shift has happened quickly, and it demonstrates how vital college attainment is to individual success and our nation as a whole.”
Although professional and business services cut college jobs during the recession, it has already regained more than 730,000 of those positions during the recovery. Government jobs remained steady during the recession as it added approximately 80,000 college jobs, but that fell during the recovery because of budget cuts with 14,000 lost college.
Since the recession began, the health care industry has added more than 1 million jobs for people with associate and bachelor’s degrees, the study shows. For the manufacturing sector, employment among respondents with high school diplomas fell 15 percent while employment among respondents with bachelor’s degrees only dropped 1 percent.