College Graduates Better Suited to Weather a Recession

By Catherine Groux
Posted January 11, 2013 11:00 AM

Colleges graduates are better prepared to handle an economic storm.
Colleges graduates are better prepared to handle an economic storm.
During the 2007-2009 recession, countless Americans lost their jobs and struggled to find sustainable employment. However, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center's Mobility Project, individuals without a college degree were among the most negatively affected by the recession.

Before the recession began, about half of young adults with a high school diploma were employed, while about two-thirds of those with an associate's degree and three-fourths of those with a bachelor's degree could say the same. While these figures already reflect a wide employment gap, the Pew report shows that after the recession, the gap widened even further.

During the recession, high school graduates experienced a 16% decline in job opportunities, while associate's degree holders saw an 11% decrease. At the same time, bachelor's degree holders only experienced a 7% decrease in positions.

An August 2012 report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows a similar trend. During the recession, individuals with only a high school diploma or less lost 5.6 million jobs. Bachelor's degree holders, on the other hand, gained an additional 187,000 positions between December 2007 and January 2010.

"Higher education is one of the key factors driving upward mobility in the United States," said Diana Elliott, research manager of Pew’s Economic Mobility Project. "Even under the pressures of the most recent economic downturn, a four-year college degree provided protection in the labor market for recent college graduates."

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