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The Circle Bastiat

Are higher education skeptics elitist?

With only about half of college graduates working jobs that require a degree, Americans should question the value of a college degree

(Page 2 of 2)

“Young college graduates working multiple jobs is a natural consequence of a bad labor market and having, on average, $20,000 worth of student loans to pay off,” said Carl E. Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers.

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“[T]he median starting salary for those who graduated from four-year degree programs in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who graduated in 2006 to 2008, before the recession,” writes Seligson, who adds, “Try living on $27,000 a year — before taxes — in a city like New York, Washington or Chicago.”

Mia Branco graduated magna cum laude with a degree in musical theater from American University in 2009 and works four jobs in order to take home $1,300 in a good month.

“More college graduates are working in second jobs that don’t require college degrees,” Seligson writes, part of a phenomenon called ‘mal-employment.’ In short, many baby-sitters, sales clerks, telemarketers and bartenders are overqualified for their jobs.”

Nearly two million college graduates were mal-employed last year, up 17% from 2007. Nearly half of all college graduates are working at a job not requiring a degree.

Roger Fierro works four jobs and likes it that way. “I was working 12 hours a day and making $38,000 a year and it wasn’t making a dent in the $120,000 in loans I had to pay off. Plus, I was miserable.”

“Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted,” reported the Times last month. “That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007.”

Leonhardt believes higher education skeptics are elitist. Maybe he should ask the class of 2010.

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