Study: College Grads Weathering Economic Storm

Those who don’t hold college degrees fare far worse, states the report from Georgetown University.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years.

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New research from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce reiterates a truism that may resonate with college graduates in a tough economy.

On average, college grads continue to earn nearly twice as much as high school graduates, according to the report, "The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm."

"It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education," wrote Anthony Carnevale, director of the center and co-author of the report, in a release.

"At a time when more and more people are debating the value of postsecondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree," he added.

[Find companies hiring grads from your school.]

The "gradual shift" to more-educated workers has been taking place for decades, but the "Great Recession" gave that process a "mighty push" when it began in December 2007, according to the report, which relies heavily on data from the Current Population Survey, a joint U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics project.

Although the most recent survey of those bureaus came out in March 2011 and contained data from 2010, the authors of the Georgetown study often use estimates for 2012 based on that data.

The study, which contains illustrations of umbrellas and literal references to the economic storm, notes, "When it rains hard enough and long enough, everyone gets a little wet." But although the unemployment rate for recent four-year college graduates is 6.8 percent—more than 50 percent higher than the overall rate for four-year college graduates of 4.5 percent—those who hold only a high school diploma are plagued by an unemployment rate of 24 percent.

[Read about the forthcoming U.S. News's Best Colleges rankings.]

The "most striking statistic" of the study, according to the authors, is that nearly 200,000 jobs were added during the recession for bachelor's degree-holders, as well as 2 million positions for college-educated workers during the recovery.

The study focused on the categories of workers who either didn't go to college, or held a "bachelor's degree or better," but didn't differentiate between college graduates and those who went on to pursue graduate or doctoral degrees.

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