One of the long-running jokes being told during the wake of the great financial crash of 2008 involved art history graduates. According to the joke, if you are a college graduate, your chances of working as a waiter is higher now than ever. Well, a lot of people were laughing at that joke back in 2009 and 2010. People aren’t laughing now. In fact, if you have a degree, even if it is supposed to be some sort of joke degree like Art History, Comparative Literature or Rhetoric, you are in hot demand. In fact, the unemployment figures for workers with a college degree is 2.8%. That is very close to the figure before the crash of 2008.
The downside to this is that, while college degree holders are the first ones picked in an economic recovery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have high-paying jobs. As I have reported earlier, the U.S. economy is generating lots of jobs. However, most of those jobs are lower paying. This is why the median household income in the United States is the same now as in the year 2007. You have eight years of wage stagnation for the middle class.
The real winners of this recovery are college grads who are in the STEM field. STEM, of course, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. Not only do these people get higher-paying jobs, they actually also get multiple job offers. That is how hot the market is for college grads in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields. Interestingly enough, the demand is so high that a lot of employers are rattling the cage of congress to issue more employment visas to attract foreign workers to U.S. shores. This is especially true for Silicon Valley. The sad reality is that among the native population in the United States, there is not enough people going into these fields.
The jobs recovery in the United States is very lopsided. It seems like it is doing well. But if you have an Art History degree or just any regular Humanities, Social Science, Business or even Management degree, you are not necessarily better off. Of course, having a job is better than not having a job. However, in terms of upward mobility and earnings, you would have to wait a little bit longer.
In fact, some older college grads who started off their careers with a great company often find themselves drifting in their careers. The great company that first hired them out of college laid them off. Now, they are struggling to simply get paid. Don’t get me wrong, they have jobs. But these are kinds of jobs that they don’t really see themselves having a career in. At the very least, these jobs pay less than they originally expected. There is a lot of discontentment behind the rosy jobs numbers the government is making a big deal about.