The major matters

New college graduates with bachelor’s degrees start at $27,000 a year — if they can find jobs, according to a new study of 2009 and 2010 grads. That’s down from 2006-08, reports the New York Times. Worse, only 56 percent of the class of 2010 reported holding at least one job by spring, compared to 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007.

Roughly half of recent college graduates said that their first job required a college degree.

The college major matters, concludes Andrew M. Sum, a Northeastern University economist who analyzed 2009 Labor Department data for college graduates under 25.


While, 77.6 percent of college graduates had jobs, only 55.6 percent had jobs that required college degrees. Some of the unemployed were in graduate school.

Only a minority of students with humanities and area-studies (Latin American Studies, women’s studies) majors held jobs requiring a degree.

Pay was low. (The chart includes people working part time, I think.)


Engineers earn more in non-degree-requiring jobs than humanities majors get in degree-requiring jobs.

College graduates who take jobs as bartenders and waitresses — 17 more are taking restaurant jobs, says the Times — crowd out young workers with fewer credentials.

Update:  The lifetime earnings of engineering, computer science and business majors are as much as 50 percent higher than lifetime earnings for humanities, arts, education and psychology majors, concludes a Georgetown study.

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