NCES Report Shows Class of 2008 Mostly Employed

Inside Higher Ed reports that in spite of graduating during the worst of the economic recession, four out of five college graduates of 2008 were working four years later.

Karen Farkas of writes that 83% of graduates who were not working on another degree were employed in some fashion.  Of the students who were working, 85% had a full-time job.

“This is a snapshot of the depths of the recession,” Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, told Inside Higher Ed. “This data comes out of the deepest hole we’ve had since the Great Depression. They measured the economy when it was near rock bottom. The fact that employment rates were as high as they were is pretty damn good.”

These facts are based on data from the second follow-up of the 2008  “Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study”  and includes the experiences of 17,110 students from varying four-year schools.  The effect of the recession on the findings varies greatly.

– Social sciences and humanities majors were in the job market longer than students with other majors, but 78% were employed four years after graduation, though only 74% of that number had full-time jobs.

– Computer science, engineering, science, and mathematics majors were averaging about 80% employment four years after graduation.

– Engineering students had an employment rate of nearly 90%

Richard Vedder, economics professor at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, told Inside Higher Ed that perhaps the recession should not take all the blame.

“The numbers are certainly exaggerated as the economy was still recovering in 2012, but I think the numbers really reinforce the notion that the current labor market just isn’t overly robust,” Vedder said. “Nearly a quarter of the students were not fully employed. The report reaffirms suspicions I had that a large portion of the graduate population is not highly engaged in the labor force.”

Still, the report will stimulate debate over the recurring question, “Is college worth it?”

Beckie Supiano, writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, adds a few more findings from the report:

– Graduates who worked but did not enroll in post-secondary studies held an average of 2.1 jobs in the years since they graduated.

– Graduates who did not pursue post-secondary degrees worked 84% of the months since graduation; 39% have held one job; 11.4%  have held four or more jobs.

– Graduates who did not pursue post-secondary degrees worked an average of 84% of the months since graduation; spent 5.8% of those months unemployed; and spent 10.2% out of the labor force.

– Graduates who did not pursue a post-secondary degrees in 2012 and who had a full or part-time job worked, on average, 41.2% a week at that job.  Full-time workers earned an average salary of $52,000 and a median salary of $46,000; part-time workers earned an average of $25,900 and a median of $20,000.

There will be more data compiled on this group’s employment outcomes this fall from the National Center for Education Statistics with information from more “in depth questions”, according to Ted Socha, a Baccalaureate and Beyond program officer.

07 15, 2014
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