Monday, June 6, 2016

The myth of the unemployed college grad

Great online NYT piece on unemployment of college grads.  Last week's jobs report put the US unemployment rate at 4.7 percent.  The NYT article leads off with a quiz that had been part of a Google survey:  The unemployment rate for high-school grads between the ages of 25 and 34 is 7.4 percent; guess the unemployment rate for college grads in the same age range!

Here are the answers they received: the average Google respondent thought the unemployment rate for college grads was 9.2%, whereas the average NYT website respondent thought it was 6.5%.  

These answers are way wrong: the actual unemployment rate for 25-34 year old college grads is 2.4 percent.  Keep in mind that this represents all college grads -- all majors, all types of schools (even the for-profits).  

So what is going on here?  One obvious lesson is that the mainstream news media have been running so many stories about unemployed college grads (usually with heavy loan obligations as well) that anecdotes have become accepted as data.  Maybe the unemployment rate for journalism majors is a lot higher than for other majors?  Maybe journalism schools don't teach their majors how to find labor statistics, so they keep writing these misleading stories.  

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