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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Are Employers Hiring More College Grads?

Are Employers Hiring More College Grads?

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Monday, 04 April 2011 04:51

USA Today told readers that employers are disproportionately hiring college-educated workers. The data presented in the article actually do not make much of a case. While it is true that the employment to population ratio (EPOP) for college grads has risen, the increase has been very modest. The EPOP for college grads averaged 73.4 percent in the first three months of this year compared to 73.3 percent in the first three months of 2010.

As evidence that demand for college-educated workers is rising, the article reported that the professional and business services sector added 78,000 jobs in March. The article implies that these are jobs that require college degrees. In fact, more than a third of these jobs (28,800) were in the temporary help sector. Most of these jobs almost certainly did not require college degrees. Other sectors reporting good growth in March, such as restaurants and manufacturing, don't typically require that workers have college degrees. On the other hand, the government sector, which disproportionately employs workers with college degrees, shed jobs in March and the four prior months.

In short, it is not at all clear that the jobs being created by the economy at this point disproportionately require college degrees.

Comments (3)Add Comment
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written by aaron, April 04, 2011 10:57
I'd be curious whether college students are doing better than other groups because they are taking jobs that would normally go to non-graduates. In other words, if college graduates are generally prefered by employers for any given job (a constestable assumption), then college graduates would fill new job openings as they arise. Normally, there is less intermingling between graduate and non-graduate labor pools.
In fact, one can imagine a situation where college graduate unemployment is lower in a recessionary environment, since graduates become less selective in their job choices.
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written by PeonInChief, April 04, 2011 11:58
My non-economist recollection of earlier recessions is that jobs for less educated workers lead the recovery and jobs for better educated workers lag. What's different about this recession is that, at the rate we're going, it's going to be five years before we start looking for college graduates in large numbers.
Whistle Past the Graveyard
written by Martin Langeland -- Dum Luk's, April 04, 2011 4:29
If a college grad applies for a job that does not require a degree he or she will likely be turned away, unless the employer finds the applicant irresistible for ancillary reasons. Why? "Oh, you'll soon be bored with such a dull job." or a form of words to that effect. Hiring is an essentially irrational act. To avoid the implications of that, it is smothered in great dollops of rationalization in hopes that the one offering the job will not be found culpable if the hire goes awry. Perceived 'patterns' in hiring are more likely to deceive than enlighten.
--ml

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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