Business College — 30 April 2012
The Highly Educated Struggle With Unemployment And Under-Employment

By Jason Luntz

Traditionally those with bachelor degrees and higher (master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees) have a lower unemployment rate as the rest of the population. According to the Council For Economic Education, in Dec 2011 while there was a total unemployment rate of 8.5%, those with higher education had a rate of only 4.1%. What is unusual is that in Jan of 2012 when the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3%,  those with college degrees, with a 4.2% unemployment rate, was one of the few categories of unemployed that rose.

Rhonda Stewart of Nashville, TN, is one of those unemployed people who has post college education. While she has BS, M. Ed, a Ed. S, and is in school for her Ed.D(*), Stewart has not been able to find any employment after being out of work for six months. With a strong background in Higher Education, Stewart was confident she would find a University to work at, after cut backs on Federal Grants forced her position to be terminated. “I think it is taking a while because there are so many people out of work,” She said. “A major percent of people are applying for the same positions, which makes it more competitive.”


Rhonda Stewart (Photo By: Jason Luntz)

Stewart’s day now consist of searching online, checking email job alerts, and setting up profiles on various websites. “My computer and laptop are very important because it is the only means to apply for a position,” she explained. “You can no longer just walk in and ask for an application. You are now responsible for going to a company’s website and set up an account and uploading your résumé.”

Nashville Council-member Lonnell Matthews has seen first hand an increase in those who are highly educated looking for employment. Matthews also holds the position of Operation Executive over Davidson County’s Youthful Development for the YMCA. This position allows him to interview those who are seeking positions in the program he overseas. “Personally I have seen an increase in the amount of people applying for jobs they are clearly overqualified for,” Matthews said. “I have seen people with Master Degrees applying for positions that are not in their field and are usually filled by people who have a high school diploma or an associate degree.”


Lonnell Matthews (Photo By: Nashville.gov)

Stewart can understand the frustration of those who are seeking positions they are overqualified for, “It becomes clear at a certain point that you are not only competing against those who are out of work, you have those who already in organizations that want to move up,” she stated. “This can lead you to just seek any kind of job [because] it might be the best way to get your foot in the door.”

A new study by the New America Foundation shows that 17 Million Americans are over-qualified for their jobs. Some examples are nearly 14% of Parking Lot Attendants have a BA/BS as well as almost 30% of Flight Attendants. There will be an increase in those numbers as it was recently announced that 50% of new graduates are now unemployed or under-employed.

Matthews explains it best when he says, “people are eager to get into an interview and present themselves, they will settle and they will take anything at this point.”

Rhonda Stewart is not giving up hope. She feels that with so much technology available it is possible to continue looking for a job that will fit her qualifications and employment. “I carry my laptop with me everywhere I go, and I can use my smartphone to check emails and other information from contacts,” she said in an upbeat way. “I do believe that in the end my experience and time I spent in school will benefit me.”

(*) Bachelors of Science, Masters of Education, Educational Specialist Degree, and Education Doctorate

Photo Credit: Press TV

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