Chart of the Day: Education Matters
1. College-educated workers have fared relatively well during and after the Great Recession, and employment levels for workers with a bachelor's degree or higher remained fairly stable even during the worst period of job losses (2008-2010). As of May 2012, employment for college-educated is at an all-time high of 46.355 million workers, and that is 6.3%, and almost 3 million jobs, above the January 2008 level. During the first five months of 2o12, employment of workers with a college degree has increased by more than one million jobs at an average rate of 231,000 new jobs per month. The jobless rate for this group of workers fell in May to 3.9%, the lowest rate since December of 2008.
2. Employment for workers with some college or associate degree is 2.4%, and 837,000 jobs, below January 2008. The jobless rate for this group in May was 7.9%, slightly below the 8.2% national average, but the highest in 7 months for workers with some college, and up from 7.2% in January.
3. Employment for workers with a high school diploma (but no college) is almost three million jobs and 8% below January 2008. The May jobless rate for this group was 8.1%.
4. Employment for workers with less than a high school diploma is 1.36 million jobs, and 12% below the January 2008 level. The jobless rate for this group rose in May to 13% from 12.5% in April, and has remained above 12% in every month since January 2009.
Bottom Line: The workers having the most difficult time finding jobs in the "jobless recovery" are those workers with only a high school degree and those workers with less than a high school degree. Those workers with at least some college have been faring much better, especially those with a bachelor's degree or higher. Perhaps one explanation is that there are so many unemployed workers seeking employment (above 12 million in every month since January 2009), that many employers have the luxury of being selective and hiring college-educated workers for jobs that traditionally didn't necessarily require a college degree.
And while lacking a high school diploma has always been a liability for workers, that liability has gone from a minor liability to a major setback as we move increasingly into a knowledge-based, 21st century economy. Comparatively, college-educated workers are doing quite well in an increasingly globalized, information-based economy, and it's the less educated workers that are struggling, and will continue to struggle, to find employment and keep a job. Whatever the explanation, it's clear that "education matters," and having at least some college has insulated many of those workers from the worst effects of the Great Recession and the subsequent "jobless recovery."