Letters to the editor
To the Editor:
In July 1992, Kristina J. Shelley, in her article, "The future jobs of college graduates," stated that of the 28 million college graduates in the work force in 1990, 5.8 million were educationally under-utilized. She then projected that between 1990 and 2005, the number of college graduates would grow faster than the number of college-level jobs, with the result that 30 percent of those graduates would have to settle for a job below this level. As of early 1998, how accurate have these projections turned out to be?
Ms. Shelley replies:
The most recent year for which data are available to answer your questions concerning the job market for college graduates is 1996. In the projections that you have asked about, total employment was projected to increase from 122.6 million in 1990 to 147.2 million in 2005. The projected increase in employment of 24.6 million implies an average annual increase of 1.6 million. The actual number of jobs in 1996 was 132.3 million and reflected an average annual increase of 1.6 million from 1990 to 1996, virtually the same as was projected.
College-level jobs were projected to increase from 23.2 million to 32.3 million between 1990 and 2005. The projected increase of slightly more than 9 million implies growth averaging about 600,000 a year. We have estimated that the number of college-level jobs in 1996 was 27.4 million, which reflected an average annual growth of 700,000 jobs from 1990 to 1996. This growth was more than was projected and appears across most occupations that generally require a bachelors degree or more education.
Data are not available to answer directly your question about the percent of college graduates who had to settle for noncollege-level jobs, but I am fairly sure that it is less than the 30 percent projected. Nevertheless, the number of college graduates who were employed in noncollege-level jobs did increase from 5.1 million in 1990 to 5.6 million in 1996. Although this is less than our projections indicated, labor market conditions were similar to those implied by the projections.
Our most recent projections of the job market for college graduates is presented in the summer 1998 issue of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly. It indicates a more favorable outlook than our 19902005 projections, but still implies that some college graduates will have to settle for noncollege-level jobs.
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