A look at the underemployed college graduate

Starbucks employees
Employees prepare beverages in the first Starbucks coffee shop in Seattle, on Sept. 30, 2006.

As the economy recovers, new data shows that while many college grads are now finding work, many are still underemployed. About half of college graduates who do have jobs are working in positions that don't require a college degree, according to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

According to a report on the study, "Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities," out of 41.7 million working college graduates in 2010, 48 percent--more than 20 million people--held jobs that required less than a bachelor's degree. Thirty-seven percent held jobs that required no more than a high-school diploma.

The report's authors--Richard Vedder, Jonathan Robe, and Christopher Denhart--used employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate that the number of college graduates is growing at a rate disproportionate to the number of jobs requiring a college degree. They question whether America spends too much on higher education, and ask whether society can afford to subsidize higher education for graduates who end up in jobs they could have landed without going to college.

These young adults have invested tens of thousands in their education, but they're working jobs as waitresses and retail employees that they could have gotten straight out of high school.

Carl Van Horn, professor of public policy and the director of the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, will join The Daily Circuit Tuesday, Feb. 19 to talk about what America can do to make sure that money spent on education really leads to better opportunities.

Katie Bardaro, lead economist and analytics manager for Pay Scale, will also join the discussion.

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