Study finds bachelor's degree holders weathered recession better than those with less education

by Silas Allen Published: January 19, 2013

In November 2010, Matt Deimund was just six months away from his college graduation, and he didn't know what came next.

But by the time Deimund graduated from the University of Oklahoma's Price College of Business the following May, he had a job offer in hand, and a plan for the future in mind.

New research suggests Deimund's story wasn't an uncommon one, even at the height of the recession and in its immediate aftermath.

A new study from the Pew Center on the States' Economic Mobility Project shows young adults with bachelor's degrees generally weathered the recession better than their counterparts who had associate's degrees or less.

Deimund works as a business analyst with McKinsey and Co., a New York-based management consulting firm. It wasn't an easy job to find, he said.

During his senior year, there was plenty of hiring going on. But most of the firms that showed up to career fairs were based in Oklahoma or Texas. Deimund hoped to find a job outside the region — he loves Oklahoma, but wanted to see what it was like to live somewhere else, he said. So he had to try other avenues to find a job.

“It was difficult,” he said.

Once he went to work, Deimund said, he felt well-prepared for the business world. The education he received at OU was “absolutely excellent,” he said, and the immersion he had in finance and accounting set him up to succeed in his career.

“It was tremendous,” he said.

Employment gaps

According to the Pew study, recent graduates like Deimund were more protected from the economic downturn than their counterparts with lesser education credentials.

The study, called “How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates,” was released earlier this month.

According to the report, all 21- to 24-year-olds saw declines in employment and wages during the recession. But the overall decline in jobs made employment gaps that existed before the recession even worse.

Before the recession, just more than half of all young adults with a high school degree were employed, compared with about two thirds of those with associate's degrees and three fourths who had bachelor's degrees, according to the report.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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