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.

DESCRIPTION

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.)

DESCRIPTION

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.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Mark Roulo says:

    I think that I saw this pointed out on another blog covering this study, but $35K/year seems very low for a starting salary for engineers. Do most engineering graduates that get jobs requiring a degree wind up in low paying (relative to engineering) jobs instead of in engineering jobs?

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    I got out of the Army in 1971, got my first job shortly thereafter. Had a BA in a social science–I’d planned on Infantry, so long-term prospects didn’t seem important but I survived and now what?–and, adjusted for inflation using an arbitrary 4%, I was making what would today be about $36k. Considering I had no credits in the field at all, that seems pretty good, or, if it wasn’t, what we see today is pretty bad.

  3. That figure is very low, Mark.  In my first engineering job out of school, I was making an inflation-adjusted equivalent of $54k by the published CPI figures.

  4. GoogleMaster says:

    The figures I just read in CNN Money said $50K+ for all college graduates, which seems high to me, and $52-56K for comp sci majors, which sounds about right.

    “Employers report they’ll hire 19% more new college graduates this year than last year, and average salary offers will start at $50,462, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).”

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/09/pf/saving/College_grads_job_search_tips/index.htm

    “Women earning degrees in computer science are scarce too — also about 18% of all new entrants to the field last year. Yet their 2010 starting pay averaged $52,531, while men earned $56,227.”

    http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2011/05/16/why-do-new-female-college-grads-earn-17-less-than-men/

  5. Mark Roulo says:

    And an article about the long-term difference in earning for different majors (with a very crude binning, so don’t expect too much):

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/if-money-matters-this-report-is-a-major-deal/2011/05/23/AF7r459G_story.html?hpid=z3

  6. “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.

    I’d like to see this broken out by gender. Men are more likely to major in STEM fields and also more likely to work full-time without any gaps for childraising or caring for an aging relative.

    One of the reasons I decided against going into a STEM field is because they are notoriously family-unfriendly.

  7. The primary reason given on surveys as to why women don’t choose CS majors or careers are social. They don’t want to work with geeks.