Graduates of College Fared Better in Recession ; Educated Young Workers Lost Less in Employment and Pay Than Their Peers

By Perez-Pena, Richard | International Herald Tribune, January 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Graduates of College Fared Better in Recession ; Educated Young Workers Lost Less in Employment and Pay Than Their Peers


Perez-Pena, Richard, International Herald Tribune


Among Americans age 21 to 24, the drop in employment and income was much steeper among people who lacked a college degree, according to a recent study by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Young adults have long faced a rough job market, but in the last recession and its aftermath, college graduates did not lose nearly as much ground as their less-educated peers, according to a new study.

The study, published on Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts, shows that among Americans age 21 to 24, the drop in employment and income was much steeper among people who lacked a college degree.

The findings come as many published articles and books have told the stories of young college graduates unable to find work, and questioned the conventional wisdom that a college education is a worthwhile investment and the key to opportunity and social mobility. The study did not take into account the cost of going to college.

"This shows that any amount of post-secondary education does improve the labor market outcomes for those recent graduates," said Diana Elliott, the research manager for Pew's Economic Mobility Project. "This is not necessarily to discredit those individual stories."

In fact, the study documents a serious decline in the job picture for young people.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, Pew looked at employment, either full-time or part-time, among 21- to 24-year-olds, in the roughly two and a half years before the 2007-2009 recession, during it, and in the two and a half years after it. …

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