Bachelor’s Degrees Helped Fight Recession – OnlineBusinessDegree.org
During times of economic uncertainty, it’s in a person’s best interest to be armed with as many weapons as possible. One of those weapons could be a bachelor’s degree. According to a recent report by the Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?, a four-year degree helped defend recent graduates against the weak employment outcomes – unemployment, low-skill jobs, and lesser wages – during the Great Recession a few years back.
Drawing upon data from the 2003-2011 Current Population Survey, the report examines the early labor market of graduates ages 21-24 before, during, and after the Great Recession. The report shows that graduates with a bachelor’s degree fared better than their counterparts who had an associate degree or high school diploma.
Key findings in the report include:
- Before the recession, 55% of young adults with a high school diploma were employed, compared to 64% of those with an associate degree and 69% of those with a bachelor’s degree.
- Job losses during the recession made existing employment gaps even worse. The employment declines for those with high school and associate degrees were 16% and 11%, respectively, compared with 7% for those with a bachelor’s degree.
- Before the recession, bachelor’s degree graduates had more than twice as many college-level jobs as associate degree graduates and more than four times as many college-level jobs as high school graduates. This advantage did not deteriorate during the recession: 6% of high school and associate grads lost college-level jobs, compared with only 3% of bachelor’s degree graduates.
- Although wages decreased for all education groups, the decrease was less pronounced for recent four-year college graduates. The decline in weekly wages was only 5% for bachelor’s degree graduates, whereas the corresponding declines were as high as 12% and 10% for associate degree and high school graduates, respectively.
- During the recession, the non-working population increased in size for all three education groups, but the share of that population attending school did not increase. Approximately two-thirds of all non-working graduates were attending school, a proportion that did not differ much by degree type.
- The proportion of bachelor’s degree holders who made the transition from being excluded from the labor market (not working or in school) to employment barely changed during the recession.
- By contrast, the proportions of high school and associate graduates who found employment declined significantly with the recession—by approximately 10% for those with associate degrees and 8% for those with high school diplomas.
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