Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chart of the Week: Degrees, Unemployment and Population

The number of degrees conferred (bachelor's, master's and doctoral/professional) more than doubled between 1970 and 2008. However, the unemployment rate of these individuals exactly doubled during this time. Both of these increases were far greater than the overall rate of population growth for the United States. In light of this evidence, one must question the sensibility of policy goals that seek to substantially further increase the proportion of Americans with college degrees.(Update: It has been brought to our attention that this sentence can be easily mis-interpreted; thus, we have decided to simply delete it to avoid any further confusion.)

For past Charts of the Week: Visit the CCAP Website, here.

1 comment:

Qoph said...

The data used in this "chart of the week" demonstrates just how poor people's understanding of statistics is. The number of degrees has increased. OK. The rate of unemployment of people with degrees has stayed the same. OK. The population has increased. OK. Yet, these three isolated statistics have nothing to do with one another, other than what would be considered obvious.

The fact that degrees have increased means nothing on its own. The fact that unemployment among people with degrees has remained fairly consistent means that colleges have done no worse (or better) motivating graduates to find employment. The fact that population has increased has nothing to do with any of it unless you want to correlate increase in degrees versus increase in population, but the data set given really cannot substantiate anything about that because it does not compare the percentage of population that got degrees in the past relative to the percentage of the population that gets degrees currently (or recently). Even with such a statistic, I would think economic factors and demographics changes would be substantially more material in providing useful comparison.

I like the premise of this site and blog, but the uneducated use of this chart and the data has given me serious doubts as to the credibility of other conclusions. Please, try to think about the data and what it means before posting worthless charts.