Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

The New Achievement Gap? The Link Between Education & Unemployment

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    Occupy Wall Street protestors and union members stage a protest near Wall Street in New York, October 5, 2011. The U.S.'s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate sits at 9.1 percent.

    New numbers from a recent Gallup poll underscore the point once more: education pays, and generally, education employs.

    “In the U.S., the highly educated are most likely to be working full time for an employer,” the pollsters write, “highlighting the benefits of a good education during these difficult economic times.”

    High school graduates are twice as likely to be underemployed or unemployed as are college graduates, according to the Gallup figures. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the job landscape is easy to navigate for college graduates either.

    The numbers:


    The numbers underscore the purpose of including a “college and career readiness” element in a proposed new system for rating Indiana schools. Starting next year, the Indiana Department of Education will factor the number of students who pass an AP, IB, or dual credit exam or earn an “industry certification” into a school’s letter grade.

    The goal, IDOE chief accountability officer Jon Gubera tells StateImpact, is to have 25 percent of students at a school completing educational programs that get them ready to leave high school and get a job or attend college.

    “It’s now more important than ever that our students leave high school college and career ready because you can’t just graduate high school anymore and just receive a job,” Gubera says. “You must go to college or you must go down a career path.”

    That said, the Gallup numbers also show more than 30 percent of 18-29 year olds reported being underemployed. Another 14 percent of 18-29 year olds reported being unemployed. As the Associated Press writes:

    Breaking into the job market is increasingly hard for high school and college graduates. Businesses aren’t creating many jobs. And workers who have jobs are holding on to them. That leaves young people with few openings to apply for.

    To find work, new college graduates have to settle for lower pay and jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. That’s painful for those who took on big debts to pay for their college education.

    “Young people who enter the labor market under these conditions pay a wage penalty for quite a long time,” says Harry Holzer, former chief economist at the Labor Department.

    College grads hired in 2009 and 2010 earned 10 percent less than those who found jobs in 2006 and 2007, before the Great Recession, the Rutgers researchers found.

    And economist Lisa Kahn of Yale University found that young people who graduate in a poor economy will still be saddled with lower wages 15 years later.


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