Many of the stories you’ve heard about the Great Recession often involve the plight of college graduates, or stories about how men and women have fared differently in the recession and recovery. The media have even created a new vocabulary to describe these differences, such as “Man-cession” and “Man-covery.” But the evidence suggests that differences in education better explain how Americans have fared in these difficult economic times. In The College Advantage, we argue that college degrees have served as protection for Americans seeking shelter during a tough economic storm.
The unemployment rate for all four-year college graduates is 4.5 percent, but the unemployment rate for recent four-year college graduates is more than 50 percent higher at 6.8 percent.1 At the same time, unemployment rates for recent high school graduates are near 24 percent.
Unemployment rates for new four-year college graduates peaked at 11.1 percent in July 2011 before declining to 6.8 percent in May 2012. Meanwhile, unemployment rates for new high school graduates peaked at 30 percent in January 2010 and are still at 24 percent in May 2012.
Unemployment rates for four-year college graduates went up during the recession but never exceeded 6.3 percent, compared to the peak 13.4 percent in February 2010and the current 9.4 percent unemployment rate for high school graduates.
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