There was a time when having a college degree practically guaranteed entrance into the workplace for a graduate. But new numbers made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal a startling change.
According to the Bureau’s reports, there was a net decline of 406,000 in the number of Americans age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher who were working in the United States in June. More disturbing is the fact that a net 309,000 in this demographic dropped out of the labor force meaning they neither had a job in June nor actively tried to find one.
The number of Americans age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher who can be classified “unemployed”—meaning they did not have a job but were actively trying to find one—increased by just under 100,000 in June.
According to the new seasonally adjusted numbers that the BLS released last Friday, there were 46,355,000 Americans age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher who held jobs in May. In June, that number fell to 45,949,000—a decline of 406,000.
In May, according to BLS, there had been 48,232,000 Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher who were in the “labor force”—meaning that they either had a job or were actively seeking one. However, in June, that number fell to 47,923,000—meaning a net of 309,000 college-educated Americans age 25 or older had left the labor force in and were no longer even seeking a job.
From May to June, the number of college grads who were counted as “unemployed”—meaning they did not have a job but had tried to get one in the past month—climbed by 96,000, from 1,877,000 in May to 1,973,000 in June.
There has been a dramatic increase over the past four decades in the percentage of Americans who attain college degrees. In 1970, according to the Census Bureau, only 10.7 percent of Americans age 25 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2010, 29.9 percent of Americans age 25 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
In spite of the drop, there is still an advantage to college graduates for employment. The unemployment rate among college graduates increased in June, but still remained lower than 8.2 percent unemployment rate among the overall population. In May, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent among Americans age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher. In June, it rose to 4.1 percent.