Pattye Benson

Community Matters

College Remains Important but Choosing the Right Major Could be Key to Employment

As a community, we focus on the T/E school district’s educational quality and its sustainability during these economic challenging times. Many in this community believe that there is a direct correlation between the quality of education provided in this school district and their property values. For other residents, they look at the quality of our school district as a contributor to their children’s college experience and future job prospects.

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workplace conducted an extensive study on the projection of jobs and education requirements through 2018. A new report was recently released from the center, ‘Career Clusters: Forecasting Demand for High School through College Jobs 2008 – 2018‘ which offers some interesting trends and forecasts.

Everything we know about the job market tells us that a college degree is a passport to employment that provides a decent wage and benefits, albeit some benefits in the workplace are fading in today’s world. We all know that having a college degree does not guarantee employment. However, without a college degree the chances of securing a job providing a decent wage are far less. The Georgetown study reports that by 2018, 62% of all jobs will require at least some college education. The United States will need 22 million new college degrees but the study says we will fall short by at least 3 million.

“A bachelor’s degree is still the best path to middle-class employment and wages in the United States, and while those with only a high-school diploma can achieve the same status, it will become harder for them to find and secure such jobs.” according to the study.

The reports indicates that there are jobs for those with high school degrees, but those jobs are mostly in male-dominated careers – manufacturing, architecture and construction, distribution and logistics and hospitality. The study makes an interesting point that women need education beyond a high school degree to be able to earn the same wage as a man with only a high-school education. This analysis would suggest that at the lower educated levels, women have not advanced as far with their paychecks as those women of higher education. Although there remains a disparity in many workplaces between the salaries of women and men that gap has become narrower in the last decade. This report suggests that the paycheck gap between the sexes is wider among the lower educated. The higher the education, the lesser the salary gap between women and their male counterparts.

In the future, a person with only a high school diploma will have to work harder to reach a middle-class status versus a person with only a few college credits. Opportunities go up proportionately based on the level of education and that growing fields of employment with better salaries will require college degrees. The bottom line . . . a college education is still important and valuable, even in a bad economy. It is the economy that is putting a high value on college degrees. Putting students on a track to reach the college or university level and emphasizing the importance of a degree remains important.

Understanding the importance of a college education, if you look at the original report from the Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workplace, the data suggests the following:

Consider that, since 1983, among prime-age workers between the ages of 25 and 54:

• Earnings of high school dropouts have fallen by 2 percent;
• Earnings of high school graduates have increased by 13 percent;
• Earnings of people with some college or an Associate’s degree have increased by 15 percent;
• Earnings of people with Bachelor’s degrees have increased by 34 percent;
• Earnings of people with graduate degrees have increased by 55 percent.

Although unemployment affects all economic levels, the report suggests that those individuals with postsecondary education will fair better through this recession than ‘high school educated only’ individuals. In addition, that the country’s future economic recovery will focus on skilled rather than unskilled labor jobs. In other words, those that lost jobs that only required a high school education will find that their jobs may be permanently lost; lost either to automation or through outsourcing to foreign competitors.

Using the data from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workplace, the Wall Street Journal created an interactive tool where users can search for the average employment rate and median income of people who studied each major.

Current top 10 college majors with the highest unemployment (10% employment rate or higher)

1. Clinical psychology 19.5%
2. Miscellaneous fine arts 16.2%
3. United States history 15.1%
4. Library science 15.0%
5. (tie) Military technologies; educational psychology 10.9%
6. Architecture 10.6%
7. Industrial & organizational psychology 10.4%
8. Miscellaneous psychology 10.3%
9. Linguistics & comparative literature 10.2%

One obvious trend to recognize is anyone with some form of an undergraduate psychology degree is struggling to find employment. Due to the slowdown in the construction industry, it is not a surprise to see architecture on the list.

The most employable college majors (with accompanying unemployment rate):

1. Actuarial Science 0%
2. Astronomy and astrophysics 0%
3. Educational administration and supervision 0%
4. Geological and geophysical engineering 0%
5. Pharmacology 0%
6. School student counseling 0%
7. Agricultural economics 1.3%
8. Medical technologies technicians 1.4%
9. Atmospheric science and meteorology 1.6%
10. Environmental engineering, nursing and nuclear industrial radiology and biological technologies 2.2%

College students should take note of some recession-proof degrees. There are at least six fields of study whose graduates are virtually 100 percent employed right now. That’s right – certain majors, such as pharmacology, produce graduates who face a zero percent unemployment rate. That’s not bad considering last month’s joblessness rate for people with a college degree or higher was 4.4 percent. Jobs are available for science and technology majors but also it is good to see that education and school counseling majors should be able to find employment.

Looking at the county’s unemployment rates and the rising costs of a college education over the last three decades, we should not question the value of a postsecondary degree as the Georgetown University study confirms its value. However, even if we can agree on the importance of a four-year education, especially once the country struggles out of recession into recovery mode, a pressing problem remains.

Beyond the cost of the college degree is the bigger problem . . . and that is how to pay for it!

I feel like we are living in the slow motion era of the 2nd Great Depression.

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  1. I wonder how much this study considered the implications of outsourcing. I have countless friends in pharmacology who have watched their jobs move overseas. ANything that doesn’t require personal interaction seems destined to go elsewhere.
    I just ordered an Apple tablet for a holiday present — the “tracking” information is coming from China. So we aren’t even doing distribution here anymore much less manufacturing.

  2. Didn’t mean to hit send so quickly —
    I think our concerns about a slow motion to a depression is on point. It’s why I have said here that we WILL be balancing budgets on the backs of kids. We can talk all we want about not damaging the program, but this generation is NOT going through school in the some economic conditions as the last generation. Ironically, as the rich have ever more money, and the gap widens, public education will be subject to cost cutting measures that perhaps even a fair number of our population could easily afford to subsidize. It’s because EVERYONE cannot afford it that we have problems. Houses aren’t selling, but I see the occasional 4 bedroom home demolished in favor of a mega-mansion….how can we pretend we want GREEN cars and build these 6,000 sf. boxes that future generations will have to heat? The gap is what we need to address.

  3. Lets face it, more most college is a ripoff, when analyzing the ROI. For too long colleges and universities have been feeding at the trough with no responsible governance as to reigning in costs. As long as the government will lend, prices will increase. Cap all yearly loans at 18k. Colleges will adapt, collapse but it will end this fiscal insanity.

    WHy is a lit major the same as electrical engineering? Tuition wise. Waiting for this bubble to break. Maybe college will be a new “right” deemed necessary by the feds, and it will be utopian free. Who knows.

    1. I don’t think it will be, nor should it be, free. However, I agree that the costs have spiraled out of control. This has been driven by a variety of factors including the easy availability of student aid (grants, loans) which has served to kick the can down the road, massive inefficiencies at universities (trust me, I know this personally) and most universities being unwilling to look at how to cut costs or be creative in regards to tuition pricing. The all in cost to attend Villanova (tuition, room and board, fees, average cost of books) now stands at greater than 50K per year.

      That is a joke. The irony is that it is now much harder for graduates to get out of paying for student loans than it is to default on a mortage and not pay. The bubble is already bursting and financial aid will not be as plentiful in the future. Hopefully, an adjustment is not far away. I suspect that universitiies will try every trick first to seem like they are doing something without doing something before they finally cave in.

      1. So I’m thinking that some high thinkers like Obama and Ayers and others willl institute a federal system of universities, where tuition will be free and attendance mandatory for indoctrination classes. Those capitalists that refuse will be killed… Know what? heard it on the radio yesterday. From Ayers himself… So some may think I have been channeling Hitchcock;it is what they are thinking…

  4. I think it’s funny when people say budgets will be balanced on the backs of kids. Do you realize school spending has increased 3.72 times (adjusted to current levels) from 1960? And even since 1996 (when I graduated high school) spending per student is up 32%! Remember all that money is adjusted to today’s dollars. And yet all we hear about is failing schools and budget problems. Sounds like a management problem to me.

    1. Dave
      If you have been reading this for awhile, you would know that people are fighting program changes. No one disputes that the budgets are about personnel costs and benefits, but those are contractual and while we may call it negotiations, it’s really mostly “how much must we give before you will stop taking?” (See comments above about benefits for Police….”negotiations” doesn’t mean you will get any changes — and right now it’s first dollar 100% premiums paid)
      SO — regardless of how much the budget has gone up, the only way to reduce the escalation rate of the costs is to trim the program. That’s what I mean by “on the back of kids.” We are going to have to pull back funding for extracurricular and non-mandated programs. There is no other pocket to dig into.
      Instead of talking about how much more we spend, you need to examine how you get a community with only about 25-30% of homeowners with kids in schools to determine just what level of funding they will support.

  5. why does “green” conflict with 6000 ft mansion that you seem to view with a green eye.

    I mean, should we all just cut the cord and forsake PECO? Yea caves baby…
    the so called green movement is dishonest. Lets face it, NONE of us like the price of oil and gas, and NONE of us want to live with polluted air, water and with no health insurance, to quote our failed president.

    But this will be an evolution, not a revolution., It will take time, wins and losses and PRIVATE innovation. (SEE the perversion that is government choosing winners and losers Solyndra)
    I contend that the gap between rich and poor, whatever that means, is no accident. It is the plan, the egaliltarian plan, fostered in socialism and the failed European models. Any despot wants to create a constitiuency from which the despot derives power…. Like a king… Oh kind king we will worship you if you just feed us… Ayers, Jones, Warren,., these are all dangerous folks whose thinking is infiltrating our government, schools and institutions of “higher” learning. Yep, I went to college and professional school. All my kids… college.. But we learned that a 50k per year school isn’t all its cracked up to be, and found better value, although I am sure still overpriced.

    Go carefully.

    1. Green conflicts with 6,000 sf to me because we raised much larger families in these homes and now we are replacing these “modest” (hardly_ homes with mansions that will require much more fuel to heat/ and create more waste — and all for “personal space” inside these monstrosities. Famlies are less and less together — and with social networking kids don’t even get together — but we still have huge family rooms, playrooms, bedrooms, separate baths, living rooms (for the piano and picutres presumably) and kitchens — though research shows 1) families don’t eat together and 2) fewer homes cook meals.
      So forgive the refference to “Green” — how about some minor concern for the dependence on fuel to heat our homes….and why the size of these homes are tripling for fewer kids. We need to be assessed at TRUE market value — and trigger reassessment every time a home sells.

      1. township, you touch on some good issues and they are definitely problematic.. the world is spinning very fast and changes are all around us but it is incumbant on parents to control their kids, eat dinner with them, take away the facebooks for a time, etc. Discussions around the dinner table and all that.

        But if someone wants to buy and pay for a 6000 sf wasted space with empty living rooms and need for heat( by the way some of these new houses are VERY efficient… who am I to tell them what to do or not do. I mean, I would expect the micromanagement of my neighbors lives to come from our centralized government, allowing for those in government to live the way they want, of course (and Michael Moore too, natch)

        1. THey call them McMansions, and they build them in Vulgaria. I don’t presume to tell them either — but I damn sure hope the county has the nerve to assess them at $1,000,000 and more. But you know what — they do not.

        2. No they probably don’t. And I bet your home is not assessed at market value either. I am sorry that you come off bitter. Perhaps an Occupy Tredyffrin is in your future?

          Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. may I add, that while all these new technologies are being developed, supposedly, we need cheaper gas and oil. And we need to keep the money here, for JOBS and SECURITY.
    Well, it may surprise some that even right wing nut jobs want environmental security too. Xenophobia in the name of environmental protectionism is as bad as in the name of drill baby drill. Where is the balance? Where is the rational man/woman? And the dollars weakness raises the prices… HELP!@

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