Are Lots of College Graduates Taking High School Jobs? A Reconsiderationof the Evidence
NBER Working Paper No. 5127
Several recent published papers have asserted that a growing proportion of workers with college degrees are either unemployed or employed in jobs requiring only high school skills. Using data from the 1980 and 1990 Censuses of Population and Housing, we show that this assertion does not accurately reflect labor market trends for young (25-34 year old) male or female college graduates or for older (45-54 year old) female college graduates. For all these groups, real earnings increased during the 1980s and the percentage in 'high school jobs' declined. The assertion is valid only for older male college graduates. Young college graduates improved their labor market position during the 1980s by increasingly obtaining degrees in occupations which had high earnings at the beginning of the decade and which had the highest earnings growth over the decade.
Published: new title: "Are more college graduates really taking 'high schoo;' jobs? Areconsideration of data is neede to separate anecdotes and misinterpretations from the facts," in Monthly Labor Review, vol.118, no. 12, December 1995pp. 18-27