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Jobs and Education

Posted on July 19th, 2011, by Leave a comment

In the “should we send more people to college” debates, each side has their own preferred Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections.

The “we need more college graduates” side highlights the “Fastest growing occupations” and points out that 8 out 10 of the fastest growing jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree.

The “we don’t need more graduates” side highlights the “Occupations with the largest job growth” and points out that only 4 of the 10 jobs with the largest numerical growth in jobs require any postsecondary education, and that these numbers swamp the numbers in the fastest growing category.

What I tend to forget unless I’m looking right at them is that these tables report 30 jobs in each category, even though we usually only talk about the top 10. I got curious to see what the total jobs counts across all 30 were. The table is below (the combined bar excludes overlapping jobs so as not to double count).

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked by the “fastest growing” bar. This is typically one of main planks of the “more college” crowd, but even among these jobs, 60% won’t require a degree.

I’d comment more, but Paul E. Barton beat me to it, and offers the best commentary on the underlying issues, caveats to the data and their interpretation, and the implications for national goals that I’ve seen so far.