Underemployment rate for college graduates has fallen 40% since 2010

'More and more, a college degree is becoming a ticket out of the underemployment line'

The underemployment rate for college graduates continues to decline since its recent peak in 2010—especially for minorities, according to a report from Georgetown University, Jake New reports for Inside Higher Ed.

Researchers at the institution's Center on Education and the Workforce analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current population Survey for 2015 and found bachelor's degree holders had an underemployment rate of 6.2%, compared with a 9.9% rate for the entire adult population and 12.9% for those with just a high school degree.

In 2010, the underemployment rate for college graduates topped 10%.

The benefits of holding a higher education degree were especially pronounced among African-American and Hispanic adults. And the more advanced the degree, the smaller the racial gap between underemployment rates.

When holding just a high school degree:

  • 21.3% of African-American adults were underemployed;
  • 14.4% Of Hispanic adults were underemployed; and
  • 10.4% of white adults were underemployed.

When holding at most a bachelor's degree:

  • 9.7% of African-American adults were underemployed;
  • 8.4% of Hispanic adults were underemployed; and
  • 5.2% of white adults were underemployed.

When holding a graduate degree:

  • 6% of African-American adults were underemployed;
  • 6.1% of Hispanic adults were underemployed; and
  • 3.8% of white adults were underemployed.

Underemployment rates finally falling for recent college graduates

"More and more, a college degree is becoming a ticket out of the underemployment line," says Anthony Carnevale, center director. "It's also clear that education is a pathway to reducing racial inequalities."

However, minorities still face more difficult odds of finding a job once they graduate—no matter their level of education. This year, a study published in Social Forces found a black candidate with a degree from a highly selective university will receive a response for every eight resumes sent out, while a white candidate will receive one for every six resumes submitted.

"Most people would expect that if you could overcome social disadvantages and make it to Harvard against all odds, you'd be pretty set no matter what, [but there] are still gaps," says S. Michael Gaddis, study author (New, Inside Higher Ed, 12/1).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.


From Research & Insights

Unemployment's long shadow

Next in Today's Briefing

SCOTUS affirmative action hearing comes amid campus protests

Next Briefing

  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague