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ERIC Number: EJ930734
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov-30
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
The Real Education Crisis: Are 35% of All College Degrees in New England Unnecessary?
Carnevale, Anthony P.; Smith, Nicole; Strohl, Jeff
New England Journal of Higher Education, Nov 2010
Northeastern University economists Paul E. Harrington and Andrew M. Sum argue that a recent report, "Help Wanted", "radically overstates the size of the college labor market." This overcount, they claim, has nothing to do with the recession. "Even in times of near full employment," Harrington and Sum argue that "substantial shares" of college-educated workers are "overeducated," or "malemployed." Harrington and Sum argue that the report ignores the most pressing problem facing college graduates today: malemployment, arguing the reality is that more and more college graduates are stuck in low-wage, low-skill jobs. This assertion contradicts the best available data on the hiring and pay practices of American employers. Harrington and Sum rely on official national and state Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, which implies that New England is producing about 35% more college degrees than are actually required for current and future jobs. The authors contend that Harrington and Sum have a point on "malemployment" and they assert that there is some mismatch between college curricula and career opportunities. However, Harrington and Sum take the argument about over-qualification too far. They rest their empirical case on an appeal to a higher authority above reproach: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although the BLS occupational and employment data are unimpeachable, the authors argue that its educational data is an offhand by-product of its employment and occupational data and is of substantially lower quality. The bottom line is that the BLS predictions didn't even come close to what actually happened in the economy. The only way to reconcile the BLS projections with what actually happened is to assert, as BLS, Harrington and Sum argue, that BLS is predicting the number of college degrees that employers "require," not the actual numbers of college educated workers that employers hire. (Contains 6 footnotes.)
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A