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July 1992, Vol. 115, No. 7

The future of jobs for college graduates

Kristina J. Shelley

College graduates who enter the labor force in the 1990's and the early 2000's are expected to face a more competitive job market than that encountered by graduates during the 1980's. Employment projections for the 1990-2005 period indicate that the average annual openings in jobs requiring a degree will be fewer than the opportunities available during the 1984-90 period. At the same time, projections of bachelor's degrees by the National Center for Education Statistics (or the Center, hereinafter) indicate that the average annual number awarded is expected to be greater over the 1990-2005 period than for the 1984-90 span.

Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of economic growth, labor force, industry employment, and occupational employment provide the basis for determining future employment growth in jobs requiring college graduates. The Bureau developed three alternative projections reflecting low, moderate, and high growth scenarios that were published in the November 1991 issue of the Review. Alternative projections of bachelor's degrees awarded-low, middle, and high-are from the Center, the primary source for data on the supply of college graduates. The discussion in this article focuses on moderate employment growth projections and middle degree projections, and includes a brief discussion of alternative projections for comparison purposes.

Despite the prospect of increased job competition, the majority of college graduates are expected to find college-level jobs. However, under the alternative with moderate employment growth and the middle level projection of degrees awarded, approximately 7 of 10 college graduates joining the labor force during the projected period can expect to enter jobs requiring a college degree, compared with about 8 of 10 over the 1984-90 period. Job market conditions would approximate those of the 1984-90 period only if the high growth employment projections prepared by BLS are realized along with the low level of degree projections prepared by the Center.

This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1992 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.

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