It never seems to occur to our betters that the inability of humanities graduates to find jobs has a lot to do with the basic problem that there aren’t any fucking jobs (go figure). Furthermore, most humanities majors never went on to ‘use’ their degrees: they didn’t enter a related PhD or other post-graduate degree program, teach history, or work in an archive or museum.
Well, now WE HAZ DATAZ! During the last decade, rate of malemployment, defined as “a college graduate not being employed in an occupation ‘which utilize[s] the skills and knowledge that are commonly thought to be acquired through a college education’” has always been high, even when strict (‘U3′) unemployment was much lower:
Fogg and Harrington’s Table 1 shows a mal-employment rate for college graduates under 25 of 34% in 2000, 34% in 2007 and 39% in 2010. Unemployment was only 4.5% in 2007, so the increase in mal-employment from 2000 to 2010 is not simply a consequence of the current recession.
That’s not to say there’s no role for the recession:
Obviously an increase from 41% to 54% of recent college graduates being unemployed or underemployed is hardly trivial, but only Weissmann seems to have provided the comparison which shows that even in boom times, 40% of recent college graduates have troubles in the job market. Note that the 2000 figure is from before the dot.com recession, when the overall unemployment rate was about 4%. Since the unemployment rate if 2011 was about 9%, 40% of the increase in the job market problems of recent college graduates is due to the overall bad state of the economy and has nothing to do with college or choice of major.
The recession isn’t helping, but college for many has been for a long time a gateway to serving lattes (not that there’s anything wrong with that–all labor has worth). And most majors aren’t great at placing their graduates:
College was never a great job placement strategy. That is not the tragedy. The tragedy is how many recent graduates are in hock up to their eyeballs paying for college. We can do something about that. If the powers that be actually gave a shit. Guess what? They don’t.