College grads enjoyed big employment edge in May

College grads enjoyed big employment edge in May, though some have jobs not requiring a degree

Associated Press

U.S. employers loaded up on college-educated workers in May.

A hefty 332,000 new jobs last month went to those who finished college, the Labor Department said Friday. That caused the unemployment rate for college graduates to dip to 3.2 percent from 3.3 percent in April.

It was further evidence that businesses increasingly value educated workers, even when an advertised job doesn't call for such a degree. The most recent estimate from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that, on average, a third of college graduates work jobs for which their degrees aren't necessary.

The odds of finding work are poor for those who have spent no time on campus. They lost jobs last month. The number of high school graduates who were employed fell by 100,000 in May, and their unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent from 6.3 percent.

An additional 56,000 high school dropouts lost jobs last month, causing this category's unemployment rate to climb to 9.1 percent from 8.9 percent.

Still, a college degree isn't an automatic pathway to the middle class. Many college grads are stuck working jobs that once went to high school dropouts.

More than 10 percent of workers who were earning less than $10.10 an hour had a college degree last year, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal think tank. Their share has practically doubled since 1979 as the U.S. population has grown more educated.

Unemployment rate by group:
(Numbers in percentages) May 2014 April 2014 May 2013
White 5.4 5.3 6.6
Black 11.5 11.6 13.5
Asian* 5.3 5.7 4.3
Adult men 5.9 5.9 6.5
Adult women 5.7 5.7 6.5
Teenagers 19.2 19.1 24.1
20-24 years old 11.9 12 14.5
25-54 years old 5.7 5.7 6.5
55 and over 4.6 4.6 4.7
Veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan* 5 6.8 6.6
No high school diploma 9.1 8.9 11
High school graduate 6.5 6.3 7.4
Some college 5.5 5.7 6.5
College graduate 3.2 3.3 3.8
Duration of Unemployment:
Average length (weeks) 34.5 35.1 36.9
Jobless 6 months of more (pct.) 34.6 35.3 37.4
* Not seasonally adjusted
Source: Labor Department
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