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Ididio Explores
Unemployment among workers with a bachelor's degree

Does completing a bachelor’s degree guarantee you a better chance at stable employment?

At Ididio, we like to create visualizations with our data to explore metrics we’ve read about recently. For example, this Bloomberg article discusses the diminishing career guarantee of college degrees and shrinking of the wage advantage that degrees used to provide.

To investigate this, we looked at the distribution of unemployment rates based on individual college majors. Each dot represents a major under a broad category and the size of the dot indicates the number of people with that major regardless of employment – the larger the circle, the more people have that major.

National Unemployment0%2%4%6%8%Percent with the degree that are unemployed.General/InterdisciplinaryCareerBusinessSocial SciencesHumanitiesLegal StudiesEducationCommunity ServicesHealth SupportHealthcareSciencesEngineering/DesignQuantitative/Technology
SOURCES:
2017 ACS microdata

The dots’ position from left to right reflects how high the unemployment rate is for people with that major. Rather than an even distribution of unemployment across the board, we see specific categories that tend to have majors that fall behind.

At a glance, the humanities majors seem to have both the most people with high unemployment of all of the categories, and the most majors that have high unemployment. However, that category is certainly not alone – a few other categories of majors also have relatively high representation above the national rate.


That first chart, however, accounts for all college graduates, while the Bloomberg article speaks more to recent graduates. What if we restrict our view to only the employment of people under 35, where recent graduates make up a higher proportion of workers. Does the distribution change?

National Unemployment0%2%4%6%8%Percent with the degree that are unemployed.General/InterdisciplinaryCareerBusinessSocial SciencesHumanitiesLegal StudiesEducationCommunity ServicesHealth SupportHealthcareSciencesEngineering/DesignQuantitative/Technology
SOURCES:
2017 ACS microdata

Directly comparing the two, the overall trends don’t seem to change all that much. The national average unemployment rate is a little below 4% for all workers, but jumps up to around 5% when we look exclusively at those age 35 and under. So, while the unemployment rates of various majors don’t change dramatically, the standard that they have to beat becomes lower (or higher, depending on how you look at it). Degrees that were above the national rate are below it for the younger ages.

As before, the humanities seem to have the lion’s share of majors that have challenges with employment. In fact, this is what might be causing the larger issues shown in the Bloomberg article.

This suggests to us two things: 1) Recent graduates are having more issues with unemployment than all graduates overall, but, 2) this issue tends to be more pronounced in a few specific broad categories and majors.

Our takeaway from this is that college degrees are still a valuable asset – if you’ve got the right one. When going to college to get a degree, what’s important is choosing a degree will lead to your own success.

Fortunately, at Ididio we strive to give you as much information about careers, programs, and schools as we can, so that you can find the majors that will help you succeed with certainty in the long run.

Use the controls below to view the degree programs within a broad area. Selecting a degree will take you to the degree page for further details.
View this broad degree area
Business

Methodology
The definition of a worker for this study are those between the ages of 18 and65 who reported working at least 35 hours per week and reported completing a a bachelor’s degree and had not completed a Graduate degree.
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