EDUCATION, RESEARCH

The Permanent Detour

Underemployment’s Long-term Effects on the Careers of College Graduates
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Underemployment is a pervasive problem among recent college graduates, and it is easier to avoid than escape.

The Permanent Detour

A bachelor’s degree has been, and continues to be, the clearest and most accessible path to a good job and middle-class wages. Over the course of a lifetime, the average college graduate makes $1 million more over a career than a worker with just a high-school diploma. Yet that powerful advantage only pays off if graduates find college-level jobs.

Those who start out behind tend to stay behind. Our research found four in 10 college graduates are underemployed in their first job. Two-thirds of these graduates will still be underemployed five years later. Of those workers underemployed at five years, three-quarters will still be without college-level work at the 10-year mark.

The Permanent Detour: Underemployment's Long-Term Effects on the Careers of College Graduates

Majors that Matter: Ensuring College Graduates Avoid Underemployment

In our followup report, we find the the choice of major is crucial. When examined by major, underemployment rates vary by 50 percentage points, from 29% in engineering to 80% in personal and culinary services, a more than twofold difference in risk. The report includes a three-part strategy for students who want to avoid underemployment.


Majors that Matter: Ensuring College Graduates Avoid Underemployment

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