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New Study Shows Architecture, Arts Degrees Yield Highest Unemployment

Washington Post (01/04/12) Whoriskey, Peter

A study set to be released today by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reports that recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees in architecture, the arts, and humanities experienced significantly higher rates of joblessness. The recent college graduates with the lowest rates of unemployment had degrees in health, education, and agriculture and natural resources. Those with business and engineering degrees also fared relatively well.

The analysis was based on 2009 and 2010 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and comes amid an increasing debate over the value of college education as an economic investment. Study co-author Anthony Carnevale and his team have also quantified the value of various majors in terms of wages. Over a lifetime, the earnings of workers who have majored in engineering, computer science or business were as much as 50% higher than the earnings of those who majored in the humanities, the arts, education, and psychology.

Even across relatively similar fields, unemployment rates could be significantly different. For example, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates in information systems was 11.7%, while the rates for majors in computer science was 7.8%. Unemployment rates were generally higher among those with degrees in non-technical fields, according to the study.