One big question Americans get wrong about jobs and college graduates

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What do you think the unemployment rate is for 25-to-34-year old college graduates? It’s probably a lot lower than you’re thinking… 

Read more: 6 fast food restaurants that offer tuition reimbursement

People are underestimating the value of a college degree

The New York Times asked Google Consumer Surveys to do two surveys last year regarding education and unemployment. What they found was astonishing: Americans in general are out of touch with the facts. 

And it’s not that people didn’t know the exact unemployment rate, it’s that people thought the unemployment rates for people with a college degree were higher than for those with only a high school degree.

First, the survey asked, ‘What would you guess is the current unemployment rate for four-year college graduates between the ages of 25 and 34?’

What people think about education and unemployment and the reality are two entirely different things

Most people answered 9.2%, which is way off. And in fact, the most common answers for college graduates were between 20% and 30%. But the reality is that the unemployment rate for college graduates in this age range is just 2.4%. 

Read more: Top 10 best and worst cities to start your career​

Thinking they might have missed something, and considering people may not know how the unemployment rate is defined (it does not include people who are not looking for a job), the group then asked the question a different way: ‘What do you think the unemployment rate is for 25-to-34-year-olds who graduated from a four-year college? (Hint: for those with only a high school degree, it’s 7.4%.)’ 

Over half of respondents guessed that the jobless rate for college graduates was higher than those with just a high school diploma — a sign that people are completely underestimating the value of a college degree and the effect it has on a person’s chances of finding a job.


The survey authors were stunned. 

Though there have been many articles citing the difficulties of college graduates looking for employment, the reality is that the unemployment rate for college graduates is far less than for those with only a high school diploma. Young college graduates have had an average unemployment rate that is 5.5% lower than non-graduates since 2000. 

College graduates earn more money

Additionally, college graduates make significantly more money. According to Pew Research, the typical college graduate earns an estimated $650,000 more than the typical high school graduate over the course of a 40-year career. 

So here’s the bottom line: Don’t underestimate the value of higher education! And if you’re trying to decide what to study, you may want to choose a career path in a high-demand industry, so that when you get out of school you’ll be more likely to land a great job. 

Just because you’ve heard something over and over from the news doesn’t make it true. This survey is a case study in how the media has the ability to shift public perception a certain way, even if the facts demonstrate a different picture. If you believe something to be true, don’t be afraid to do the research: It’s more beneficial to you to know what’s truly going on versus unintentionally falling prey to false narratives. 

And when it comes to education, the facts speak: It’s better to have a college degree for most people than to not have one, in spite of all the exceptions to the norm. 

Read more: Top 40 highest-paying college degrees

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