Mountains of student debt, flattening wages, and a tough job market have made many people question whether ever-costlier college degrees still lead to good jobs.
The answer is yes: Job opportunities for college-educated workers have never been greater, according to a new report.
The report, published Monday by Georgetown University’s Center on Education & the Workforce, found that from 1967 to 2007, the share of high-skill management and professional jobs rose 14 percent and that those jobs represent 35 percent of all U.S. jobs. The results belie one widely held belief about the economy: that over the last four decades, lucrative jobs have disappeared and been replaced by high numbers of low-skill, low-wage service jobs.
In fact, over the same period, opportunities for low-skill workers declined 10 percent. These low-skill labor roles, such as fast-food server, retail worker, and dishwasher, now make up only 29 percent of jobs.
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To arrive at their conclusions, Georgetown’s Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose examined data from the Census Bureau showing hourly earnings from 1973 to 2007. The numbers show that, contrary to the pessimistic views of some, college- educated workers are in significantly more demand today than they were a couple decades ago.
“The increasing technological sophistication of our economy has only increased the demand for educated workers who can utilize that technology,” Carnevale and Rose said in the report. “As employers have bid up the price for college-educated workers, the real wages of high school-educated workers have fallen.”
With more employers paying a premium for workers who’ve earned at least a bachelor’s degree, the college-educated workers have come to pull in a growing share of dollars earned in the United States. Although they make up only 34 percent of workers, college-educated workers earned 53 percent of wages in 2012. That’s a dramatic change from 1967, when workers who’d only finished high school (or less) made up more than 70 percent of workers and accounted for more than 60 percent of earnings.
“It is time to recognize that the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial economy has resulted in a shift away from an economy rooted in high school-level skills to an economy anchored in postsecondary education and training,” Carnevale and Rose said.