College Education Key in Post-Recession Job Gains

Higher EducationNo matter where you turn these days, there is distinct evidence of this tough economy.  But while recent job reports show that the United States economy added 11.6 million jobs since the beginning of this Recession, that restoration has not been equal among all workers. Quite shockingly, the reports say that the vast majority—about 8.4 million—of these jobs went to workers with a Bachelor’s degree (or higher).  That leaves only about 80,000 jobs going to workers with only a high school diploma or less.

In the new report—entitled America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots—researchers from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce say, “The modern economy continues to leave Americans without a college education behind.”

This dramatic shift point in labor dynamics have emerged in the recent post-recession years to, perhaps, further exacerbate the increasing disparity between the haves and the have-nots in America. Indeed, college-educated workers are finding it easier to not only find work but also to find jobs with solid pay; this, of course, pushes those without an education to the outskirts of the work force.

Anthony P. Carnevale, the director of the Georgetown University Center goes on to say, “For decades, we’ve witnessed this growing split that parallels the divide in the current electorate.”

Looking more closely, it appears that Americans with a graduate degree managed to gain 3.8 million jobs, while those holding a bachelor’s degrees were able to gain 4.6 million jobs. Those with an associate’s degree improved by about 3 million jobs, and, again, only about 80,000 jobs created went to workers with only a high school diploma (or less).

In the report, the researchers note: “The two industries that traditionally hired large numbers of workers without a college degree — construction and manufacturing — are shifting toward workers with more education than a high school diploma. Most telling is the manufacturing sector: of the 1.7 million jobs that have been gained since the onset of the recovery, only 214,000 (or 12 percent) have gone to workers with a high school diploma or less.”

While not related, other reports also show that the cost of college continues to skyrocket and this is challenging previous conceptions that a college degree is necessary for a happy and successful life. Of course, if college is too expensive it is definitely going to deter applicants as many will question the return on investment; with employment often requiring higher educational achievement, this could spell disaster for the middle class.