Unemployment rate by college major

A January 2012 report titled “Hard Times” from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce looked at earnings by college major. Here are the four main findings of the study:

1. Choice of major substantially affects employment prospects and earnings.

2. People who make technology are better off than people who use technology.

3. In general, majors that are linked to occupations have better employment prospects than majors focused on general skills. But, some occupation specific majors, such as Architecture, were hurt by the recession and fared worse than general skills majors.

4. For many, pursuing a graduate degree may be the best option until the economy recovers. But, not all graduate degrees outperform all BA’s on employment.

This seems to reinforce the recent push for STEM disciplines as well as more vocational-type programs. Here are the unemployment rates by educational degree and for a few college disciplines:

A study published in January from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce finds unemployment among job seekers with no better than a high school diploma at 22.9 percent.

And it doesn’t get any better for high school dropouts, whose unemployment rate sits at 31.5 percent among high school dropouts.

While a college degree gives job seekers a formidable advantage over those without, the study finds not all degrees are created equal and there are a number of factors that prospective students should consider before signing their major. The study cited unemployment rates for recent college graduates with a bachelor’s degree at 8.9 percent.

According to the report, fields in anthropology and archeology  have an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, philosophy and religious studies are at 10.8 percent, sociology 8.6 percent and journalism is at 7.7 percent.

Given the common discourse you will hear about sociology majors (particularly those that rack up lots of college debt!), I’m happy to see that sociology is slightly above average. The sociology unemployment rate is 8.6% for recent college graduates, 5.4% for experienced college graduates, better than the percentages for political science, economics, English, and philosophy and religious studies.

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