One Lesson of our Current Tough Economy – Education Pays
As difficult as it may be to take, each day it seems the economic news is worse than that of the day before. This past week the jobless rate in America hit an astonishing 8.1%.
Yet as bad as that sounds, predictions are that the number will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, perhaps reaching double figures by late spring or early summer.
The data also indicates that the impact of the economy has hit young people the hardest. According to Bob Herbert of the NY Times, those being hit the hardest and therefore, those who will subsequently have the most difficult time recovering are America’s young workers.
In his column on February 28th, Hebert noted that “nearly 2.2 million young people, ages 16 through 29, have already lost their jobs in this recession. This follows an already steep decline in employment opportunities for young workers over the past several years.”
A College Education
Nearly 2 million people have lost jobs in just three months and the layoffs have come in all arenas: blue-collar, white-collar, highly educated and not.
With 4.4 million lost jobs during the entire downturn and another 12.5 million people searching for work, no age group or industry has been spared. And yes, recent data reveals that the “jobless rate for college graduates has hit its highest point on record, just like the rate for people lacking high school diplomas.”
But those wondering about the wisdom of a college degree, particularly given the cost of a diploma in such uncertain times, it is imperative that you look further into the numbers being released.
Because, while the unemployment rate recently topped 8.1% for all Americans, the jobless rate for people with bachelor’s degrees is still barely half that figure, 4.1 percent. And as far as the high school dropout population, the current unemployment rate stands 50 percent higher for that group than the national average, a whopping 12.6 percent.
Article after article reveals the current downtrend as one of the worst in American history. Though we are still a long way from matching the numbers associated with the great depression, to find a situation rivaling today’s you have to go back nearly thirty years, to the early 1980s.
Make no mistake, these are exceedingly tough times and the downward economic spiral is affecting people from all walks of life, including the college-educated.
But with tough times come great lessons. And one of those fundamental lessons is that those individuals who have taken education seriously are less vulnerable during difficult economic periods.