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A college degree now qualifies you to pour coffee

A college degree now qualifies you to pour coffee

"College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life."

These remarks from Rep. Paul Ryan may be even more true today than they were last August when he delivered them at the Republican National Convention.  A new paper suggests these grads' worries are legit, that skilled workers with degrees are winding up in low-skilled jobs.  Even worse, unskilled workers are being forced out of the labor force altogether, The Daily Beast's Megan McArdle writes about a new paper from Paul Beaudry, David Green, and Benjamin Sand.

Obviously, if Beaudry et al right, this is ferociously depressing news.  It suggests that we're pushing more and more people into (more and more expensive) college programs, even as the number of jobs in which they can use those skills has declined.  A growing number of students may be in a credentialling arms race to gain access to routine service jobs.  Or maybe the productivity of our nation's wait staff is spiking as more skilled workers flood into these jobs.

Unfortunately, there's no obvious policy response to this.  It's easier to create more college educated workers through government policy than it is to create jobs for them.  It's not even obvious what the personal response should be--except that if you're planning to major in English, you should maybe see if you can't get a job at Starbucks instead.

$100,000 in student loans and all you get is a lousy green apron.


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