When Joshua Baron works delivering food for a local delicatessen, the customers wouldn’t guess that the man handing them their delectable fare is a law-school graduate. But neither the New York City resident’s undergraduate degree in International Affairs nor his law degree has translated into a career. And while he hasn’t yet passed the bar exam — and hasn’t tried in recent years — he still is qualified to work as a paralegal or in compliance. But not only are employers reluctant to hire attorneys for paralegal positions (they worry that they’ll become licensed and resign), says Baron, “There’s a glut of lawyers.”
While Baron is now pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors and thus no longer pounds the pavement for work as some might, his story is not unique. As the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) tells us in “From Wall Street to Wal-Mart: Why College Graduates Are Not Getting Good Jobs,”
Colleges and universities are turning out graduates faster than America’s labor markets are creating jobs that traditionally have been reserved for those with degrees. More than one-third of current working graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, and the proportion appears to be rising rapidly. Many of them are better described as “underemployed” rather than “gainfully employed.” Indeed, 60 percent of the increased college graduate population between 1992 and 2008 ended up in these lower skill jobs, raising real questions about the desirability of pushing to increase the proportion of Americans attending and graduating from four year colleges and universities. This, along with other evidence on the negative relationship between government higher education spending and economic growth, suggests we may have significantly “over invested” public funds in colleges and universities.
Ticket to the Good Life?
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