48% Chance You're Overqualified for Your Job

Assuming you have your bachelor's degree, says new study

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 28, 2013 8:31 AM CST

(Newser) – Next month's college loan payment might be even more of a bitter pill to swallow: A new study out today finds that almost half of all working Americans with college degrees are overqualified for their jobs. In 2010, 5% of all janitors, 15% of cab drivers, and 25% of retail sales clerks held bachelor's degrees, USA Today reports. In all, 48% of working college grads had jobs in 2010 that did not require a bachelor's degree, and 37% had jobs that only required a high school diploma, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Being underemployed "is almost the new normal," the lead author says, and the trend is likely to continue over the next 10 years. Why? The number of college graduates is much higher than the number of jobs requiring a college degree—and the disparity is getting worse since the number of grads is increasing. The number of Americans with bachelor's degrees jumped 25% between 2002 and 2012, to 41.7 million, according to Census Bureau stats ... but in 2010, only 28.6 million jobs required such a degree.

  (Shutterstock)
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If you get a degree in business administration, you may not necessarily walk into a middle-class life. There's a good chance you may end up being a bartender. - Richard Vedder, lead author

Student-loan programs and federal assistance programs are based on some sort of implicit assumption that we're training people for the jobs of the future. In reality, a lot of them are not. - Richard Vedder, lead author

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