Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Study Reveals College Graduates Were Least Harmed by Great Recession

There have been many foreboding headlines for college graduates since the Great Recession.

Last April, The Atlantic wrote “53% of Recent College Grads Are Jobless or Underemployed—How?

Last May, of Colombus, Ga. reported “One in two College Graduates not finding jobs.”

NBC News, in August, described how the “Economy leaves many returning students disappointed, deep in debt.”

As we enter a new year, college grads can know there is an upside.

A study released on Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that recent college graduates (ages 21-24) from a four-year universitybraved the Great Recession better than those without. Conducted by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality (SCPI) , the study found individuals with less extensive post-secondary eduation fared worse.

David Grusky, the lead author of the study and director of SCPI, told the Stanford Report the study was the first of its kind in regards to researching recent college graduates. Grusky and his team based the study on dividing a group of 21-24 year olds by their highest education level received: high-school diploma, 2-year associate’s degree, and 4-year bachelor’s degree.

Then, the researchers looked at the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey and analyzed full-time and part-time employment of 21-24 year olds “in the roughly two and a half years before the 2007-2009 recession, during it, and in the two and a half years after it,” according to The New York Times.

Here are the numbers from The New York Times article:

Among those whose highest degree was a high school diploma, only 55 percent had jobs even before the downturn, and that fell to 47 percent after it.

For young people with an associate’s degree, the employment rate fell from 64 percent to 57 percent.

But those with a bachelor’s degree started off in the strongest position and weathered the downturn best, with employment slipping from 69 percent to 65 percent.

People with four-year college degrees saw a 5 percent drop in wages, compared with a 12 percent decrease for their peers with associate’s degrees, and a 10 percent decline for high school graduates.

Grusky observes that even though some college graduates are forced to take jobs that do not make full use of their education, “even worse things are happening for groups that have lesser credentials.”

Despite the recession, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported a 37% increase in enrollment between 2000 and 2010 from 15.3 million to 21 million. The number of full-time students rose 45%, while the number of part-time students rose 26%.

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