‘I’m too educated for my job’

Nineteen percent of U.S. workers say they’re overeducated for their jobs, notes Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic. That’s below the average in developed countries, according to an OECD report. In Japan and the UK, 30 percent say they’re overeducated. Italy is the lowest at 13 percent.

However, the report concludes that “most workers who claim to be overqualified for their jobs are probably well suited for them” in terms of their literacy skills, Weissmann points out.

U.S. adults lag in numeracy, literacy

U.S. adults are dumber than the average human, proclaims the New York Post. A new international study doesn’t quite say that. But it’s not great news.

art“In math, reading and problem solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average,” the Post reports.

Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and other countries scored higher than the United States in all three areas on the test, reports the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).

Americans ranked 16 out of 23 industrialized countries in literacy and 21 out of 23 in numeracy. In a new test of “problem solving in technology rich environments,” the U.S. ranked 17 out of 19. Respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.

American baby boomers outperformed people of the same age overseas, reports the Wall Street JournalYounger Americans lagged behind their international peers “in some cases by significant margins.”

The results show that the U.S. has lost the edge it held over the rest of the industrial world over the course of baby boomers’ work lives, said Joseph Fuller, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School who studies competitiveness. “We had a lead and we blew it,” he said, adding that the generation of workers who have fallen behind their peers would have a difficult time catching up.

“We have a substantial percentage of the work force that does not have the basic aptitude to continue to learn and to make the most out of new technologies,” Mr. Fuller said. “That manifests itself in lower rates of productivity growth, and it’s productivity growth that drives real wage growth.”

Workers in Spain and Italy posted the lowest scores.

Educated and unemployed in Europe

Europe’s “youth unemployment crisis” is “truly terrifying,”  writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Overall, EU unemployment is 12.2 percent, but it’s twice that for would-be workers under 25.  Youth unemployment is 56 percent in Spain and 62.5 percent in Greece. “We’ve never seen a generation this educated also be this unemployed,” Thompson observes. Nearly 40 percent of young people in Spain and 30 percent in Greece are college educated.

youth unemployment 2013.png

The less scary “youth unemployment ratio” — the share of young job seekers divided by the entire population — is 9.7 percent in the EU.  That doesn’t count the young people who’ve given up looking for work, writes Thompson. There are 26 million young”NEETS” (Not Employed, or in Education, or Training) in developed countries, according to the OECD.

The youth unemployment rate in the U.S. was 16 percent in late 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More young Americans (14.8 percent) than young Europeans (13.2 percent) were NEETs in 2011, the last time the OECD issued an estimate. In Italy, 19.5 percent of young people were out of work, out of school and out of luck in 2011, even higher than the numbers in Greece and Spain.

Korea’s worry: too many college grads

The U.S. trails much of the developed world in young adults with college degrees. South Korea is number one, but 40 percent of new college graduates can’t find jobs. The government is trying to push vocational education.

Also on Community College Spotlight: More unprepared students are enrolling at New York City’s community colleges:  74 percent of city high school graduates require at least one remedial class and 22.6 percent require remediation in reading and writing and math.


Diana Senechal and Michael Lopez have done such a great job of blogging in my absence that some of you may be wishing me a longer vacation. But I’m back from Italy and reasonably de-jetlagged.

I like to read novels set in the places I visit — and my daughter gave me a Kindle for my birthday — so I started our trip with Edward Bulwer-Litton’s The Last Days of Pompeii, (evil priest of Isis tries to steal virgin from would-be husband) and Robert Harris’ Pompeii (aqueduct engineer rescues  evil developer’s virgin daughter). The first created a melodrama from the ruins of Pompeii. The second taught me a lot about aqueduct engineering.

Other than Rick Steves, who seems to be the guide of all American tourists in Italy, I didn’t read anything for Positano, which was stunning beautiful, and Cinqueterre, which resembled Positano.

I did throw in Alexandre Dumas’ The Borgias, even though it’s mostly set in Rome.  Very few virgins.

Then it was on to Florence and San Gimignano, for which I read E.M. Forster’s Where Angels Fear To Tread (virgin fails to get sexy Italian) set in a Tuscan hill town.

Foolishly, I tried to read a non-fiction book about Venice, but the detailed descriptions of the art — too many Madonnas, speaking of virgins — were more than I could take. I also gave up on a D.H. Lawrence book on Italy, which had more purple prose than Bulwer-Litton.

We did watch The Tourist, set in Venice, before leaving, as well as The American, set in an Italian hill town. Neither makes any sense, though The Tourist is livelier.

From Venice, we went to Lake Como. I read Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed (evil lord steals virgin from would-be husband), which is set nearby.  Allegedly, one of the greatest novels in Italian history, it includes an acerbic economic analysis of the Milan bread riots (the harvest failed, grain prices went way up, price controls failed, bakers got the blame), a harrowing description of the 1630 plague in Milan and a strong argument for forgiving people who don’t deserve it. The virgin gets her man.

At this point, I ran out of virgins and came home.

Italian study: Thimerosal not linked to autism

Yet another study shows no link between vaccines and autism, reports NPR.  “In the early 1990s, thousands of healthy Italian babies in a study of whooping cough vaccines got two different amounts of the preservative thimerosal,” which some fear causes autism.

Only one case of autism was found, and that was in the group that got the lower level of thimerosal.

Alison Singer, executive vice president of communications and awareness at Autism Speaks, recently resigned over the vaccine issue.

“Dozens of credible scientific studies have exonerated vaccines as a cause of autism,” she wrote in a statement. “I believe we must devote limited funding to more promising avenues of autism research.”

Singer, who has an 11-year-old daughter with autism, told Newsweek the vaccine question has been resolved. “We need to be able to say, ‘Yes, we are now satisfied that the earth is round’.”