Almost Half Of College Degreed Workers Are Overqualified For Their Jobs

A new study finds that almost half of American workers with college degrees are overqualified for their jobs. Yet we still have politicians, educators and parents insisting that all young people go to college, despite the rising costs of higher education. It’s another “new normal.”

The study, released by the non-profit Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says the trend is likely to continue for newly minted college graduates over the next decade.

“It is almost the new normal,” says lead author Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist and founder of the center, based in Washington.

The problem is there are more college graduates than there are jobs requiring a degree.

Vedder, whose study is based on 2010 Labor Department data, says the problem is the stock of college graduates in the workforce (41.7 million) in 2010 was larger than the number of jobs requiring a college degree (28.6 million).

That, he says, helps explain why 15% of taxi drivers in 2010 had bachelor’s degrees vs. 1% in 1970. Among retail sales clerks, 25% had a bachelor’s degree in 2010. Less than 5% did in 1970.

“There are going to be an awful lot of disappointed people because a lot of them are going to end up as janitors,” Vedder says. In 2010, 5% of janitors, 115,520 workers, had bachelor’s degrees, his data show.

The article goes on to note that another study found that there is a shortage of qualified workers for high-tech jobs, so maybe the problem isn’t so much too many degree holders, but rather students wasting their time and money studying the wrong subjects.