College: At Least it Helps You Keep That Crappy Job

Surprise, the Wall Street Journal says, it turns out college graduates, even with all that debt, still make more money than anyone else. Perhaps more importantly in this economy, people with college degrees are more likely to keep their jobs. According to an article by Conor Dougherty:

[There is] a divide between the fortunes of Americans with college degrees and those without. It’s not only that the college educated earn more, but that they are far more likely to keep their jobs when times get tough.

By some measures, recession has exacerbated the divide. The unemployment rate for workers 25-and-older with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.6% in August, for example, compared with 10.3% for those with just a high-school diploma. That’s a 5.7-percentage-point gap, compared with a gap of only 2.6 percentage points in December 2007 when the recession began.

But going to college merely means that someone has a shot at being middle class. It doesn’t appear that a college degree actually ensures that one can obtain a professional job.

Furthermore, college graduates might earn more, but their higher earnings haven’t kept pace with the extra amount they’re now responsible for paying to go to college. People with bachelor’s degrees make 64 percent more than people without them. But that rate has been virtually the same since 2001, despite the fact that the cost of college has increased at twice the rate of inflation almost every year.

So, in short, college is still worth it. This is not, however, because college is any more valuable or remunerative than it used to be, but just because things are much, much worse for people who didn’t go to college.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer