Nearly half the jobs lost in the recession that began in December 2007 have been recovered, and virtually all those jobs required some postsecondary education, a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce finds.
The report, The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm (52 pages, PDF), found that, as of February 2012, 7 percent of job seekers with at least a bachelor's degree were unemployed and 14 percent were underemployed. Among those with a high school diploma or less — a cohort representing 78 percent of job losses during the recession — 24 percent were unemployed and 42 percent were underemployed. The extent of job losses fell in inverse correlation to additional years of education, with the most educated cohort experiencing a 2.2 million net gain in the number of jobs dating back to before the recession.
"It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education," said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and co-author of the report. "At a time when more and more people are debating the value of postsecondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increases dramatically without a college degree."
According to the report, which was funded by the Lumina and Bill & Melinda Gates foundations, men lost nearly three times as many jobs as did women during the recession, although they have led in job gains during the recovery. In addition, the report pointed out that the gap in both employment growth and earnings between those with a bachelor's degree and those without had been widening well before the recession.
"In the mid 1970s, less than 30 percent of jobs in America required any education beyond high school," said Lumina Foundation president and CEO Jamie P. Merisotis. "Today, the majority of U.S. jobs require a postsecondary degree or credential. This shift has happened quickly, and it demonstrates how vital college attainment is to individual success and our nation as a whole."