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8 college degrees with the lowest job industry unemployment rates

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

The booming U.S. economy has good news for recent college graduates who have majored in theology and religion or are medical technicians, according to a New York Fed survey.

The survey — which looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Labor data and focused on recent college graduates between the ages of 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher — revealed that those two professions saw the lowest unemployment rate at 1%.

Mass media majors saw the highest rate of unemployment at 7.8%.

Here’s the top 8:

(Source: New York Fed)

Paging all members of the clergy

The fact that these two majors saw the lowest rates of unemployment was unexpected, NerdWallet Research Analyst Holden Lewis told Yahoo Finance.

“It’s surprising how low the unemployment rate is for theology majors, but it’s possible that theology majors get their degrees while they’re working in pastoral jobs,” Lewis said. “It’s also very common for those in theology to work in academia or as teachers. The number of jobs in the clergy is expected to grow about 8% from 2016 to 2026, about the same as for all occupations combined.”

And for those in the medical technology field, the benefits are a little more obvious. With demand for healthcare workers rising fast, medical technicians have the advantage of working in a fast-growing field. “The number of jobs in medical technology is expected to rise 13% from 2016 to 2026,” said Lewis.

Overall, theology and religion majors earned a median wage early in their career around $32,000, while medical technicians made $42,600. The overall median wage for recent college graduates was $40,000.

A group of nuns laugh inside St. Patrick's Cathedral as they wait for Pope Francis to lead an evening prayer service, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Highest unemployment rates

At the bottom end of the list, mass media, liberal arts and anthropology majors saw the highest unemployment rates at above 6.5%.

Recent graduates early in their careers in these fields received a median wage between $33,000 to $35,000, but saw considerable upside as their career progressed.

Lewis said that one reason why the number is trending downwards was because “mass media employment, especially in journalism, has been in steep decline for 20 years, as changes in technology have drained advertising dollars away from newspapers, causing waves of job layoffs.”

And legendary investor Warren Buffett — who once used to delivery newspapers as a boy and currently holds a number of them in his portfolio — recently echoed the prognosis.

“The world was changed hugely, and it did it gradually,” Buffett told Yahoo Finance’s Andy Serwer in an interview. And eventually the newspaper business “went from monopoly to franchise to competitive to ... toast.”

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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