Post-Employment Economy: Record Unemployment Among Tech, Advanced Degree Holders
Concerned that your college major choice was a mistake? It might not matter. In an editorial on AlJazeera.com, author Sarah Kendzior suggests that the United States has entered a post-employment economy – one in which education and skills have become increasingly less valued. Kendzior notes that what were once the most in-demand market jobs are quickly eroding and, because of an increase in qualified candidates, people are being devalued on the free market. “In a post-employment economy,” she writes, “survival is now a laudable aspiration.”
The myth your parents and guidance counselor hammered into your head may be wrong. A good education does not mean gainful employment, at least not in the modern economy. With nearly 15 percent of graduates with information systems degrees out of work, the education that used to be a key to a gainful career is no longer enough to keep you employed. According to official numbers, people with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and medicine are seeing record joblessness and unemployment rates twice as high as they were before the recession. Only about 55 percent of recent law school graduates have found full-time jobs. Even military jobs are being cut with wars winding down and spending cuts in full swing.
If a bachelor’s degree is no longer worth as much, surely the solution would be an advanced degree. Kendzior points out, however, that academics with PhDs are among the most devalued in this economy. Since 2009, the majority of college disciplines have cut 40 percent of their teaching positions and 76 percent of professors have no job security.
Certainly, there are some majors that don’t lend themselves well to consistent employment. Fine arts degree holders see a 16.2 percent unemployment rate. History majors have a 15.1 percent unemployment rate. On the other hand, architecture, computer administration, and military technologies degree holders all have unemployment rates above 10 percent as well. Engineering degree holders have an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, well above the national average.
It’s a different economy than the one your family and school prepared you for. As Sarah Kendzior notes, survival has become an aspiration.