Friday, January 17, 2014

43% of 2009-2011 college graduates in the sciences work in fields where a degree is not required

From the New York Fed, a very interesting paper on the difficulties of new college graduates in finding positions. Their conclusions:

- It is typical, even in past years, for new college graduates to have higher levels of unemployment or underemployment. 
- "That said, both unemployment and underemployment have
followed a clear upward trend for recent college graduates over the past two decades, and particularly since the 2001 recession. In addition, it has become more common for underemployed college graduates to find themselves in low-wage jobs or to be working part-time."
- Unemployment and underemployment rates
differ markedly across majors.

What I find really disturbing about the chart to the left is the number of graduates in the sciences who are working in fields where a B.S. is not required. 43%! That's a big number -- that's more than 2 out of 5 graduates. And for all of us who like to make jokes about "would you like fries with that?", we're not doing all that much better than the social sciences (48%) or liberal arts graduates (52%). 


22 comments:

  1. While this is no consolation to anyone, I'm inclined to think that a large part of that group is pre-health science majors of one sort or another who didn't make it into professional school.

    ReplyDelete
  2. and when do the majority of folks leave the field? Could be a helpful little fact.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Something I often wonder ... of the number of jobs that require a degree, how many of the people who do these jobs _really_ need a degree to do the job?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Depends on how much training you want to do? All, none or in between?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yet more proof that we need more chemistry students

    ReplyDelete
  6. " [...] we're not doing all that much better than the social sciences (48%) or liberal arts graduates (52%)."

    At least five years ago, and in the absence of the data above, I already came to the conclusion that the professional environment and career outlook for chemists had changed to more resemble an artist's lifestyles. This in contrast to that of a highly educated, specialized, and valued practitioner of a physical/life science who often has invested a decade of training in pursuit of a terminal degree.

    As it stands, I would caution anyone to pursue academic studies in chemistry. Heck, I would caution anyone to pursue any academic studies with the exception of an MD. (Their professional organizations somehow have a knack for controlling supply and demand.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that MDs have a better gig than industrial scientists.

      I disagree that it's mostly due to their professional societies, even though they do play a significant role. I believe that the capital requirements to start a new medical school are far higher than the capital requirements to mint new PhDs in the sciences. To mint new PhDs in organic chemistry, you need grant money and an NMR. To make new doctors, you need to build a hospital.

      Also, the AMA is quite good at keeping medical procedures under the purview of physicians, as opposed to nurses, PAs and the like. I think that's probably where their professional societies are most impactful.

      (I have a sneaking feeling in my head that I've failed to absorb some reading that I've done about physician supply in the last year or two.)

      Delete
    2. Chemjobber: Doctor compensation (per procedure) is largely determined by an advisory board in the Medicare system, which determines how much the government pays. Private insurers tend to base their payouts off this. Guess who sits on the board - a bunch of doctors representing each speciality. While I've heard the board meetings described as "26 sharks in a tank with nothing to eat but each other", as each specialty tries to claim a larger share of the pie than the others, there is really no one there with any reason to say "Wait, you all are grossly overpaid". There was a nice article about this in the NYT a few days back if you are interested.

      And btw, anyone thinking about specialist pay should be required to understand a mortgage calculator before discussing the topic. How much pre-tax income do you need to finance a $200,000 loan? Something like $40,000 per year. So why do specialists have pay-premiums many multiples of that?

      Also, you are missing another key factor - the principle-agent problem. Doctors have huge financial interests in the medical decisions they make. To be to what is no ones surprise, this causes them to prescribe more and more and more of whatever lines their pockets more. If it is arguably marginally better and three times the price, great for them!

      Delete
    3. I agree that MDs act like any other interest group, especially when unchecked.

      I disagree that their prescriptive practices are based on what will make them more money (with the possible exception of surgeons.) But perhaps I am naive.

      Delete
    4. I think you are a little naive here. There are layers upon layers of kickbacks and feedbacks in how our medical system works. For examples, on top of their outrageous salaries, a lot of doctors are "invested" in the clinics they send you to. So not only do they make a quick buck telling you to run off to see their buddy, but they probably have a 25% share in his or her new-fangled overpriced equipment. Even if doctors were angels, they couldn't help but to be biased with such naked conflicts of interest floating all around them. And of course, some doctors are not angels.

      Contrast this to my corporate chemistry job, where it would be a firable offense for me to fail to declare that my wife is a co-owner of the shop where I ordered the company T-shirt swag. There is literally no tolerance for any form of conflict of interest in any corporation I have worked for, and we repeatedly have this pounded into our head during our annual training videos.

      Delete
    5. "There is literally no tolerance for any form of conflict of interest in any corporation I have worked for"

      I wish this were my experience. In small organizations, I've only seen a web of friendships and associations, mostly undeclared.

      I agree that MDs have a lot of interesting conflicts of interest and special ways that only they can make a little extra dough. I have personally railed against the $700 shrugs that I've paid for out-of-pocket.

      I have yet to see the really wild conflicts-of-interest that you're suggesting (i.e. that physicians' prescribing behavior is primarily self-serving), but perhaps my experience has been limited.

      Chad, what are your policy prescriptions? If I had one-and-only-one, it would be clear price transparency for services, in the French manner. That's pretty much it for me.

      Delete
  7. Wrong. To mint PhDs in organic chemistry you need 3 to 5 chemists to sign a sheet of paper.

    ReplyDelete
  8. There's a supply, demand, and cheap(er) foreign labor issue when even the most employed major has 5% unemployment and 20% employment that doesn't require a bachelor's, plus the one's that are employed that require a BS/A just not the one they have.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm a recent graduate in chemistry and I have friends who are in biology, biochemistry, and chemistry. Most are employed with only a B.S. and the ones who aren't working in their field of study are waiting to get into some sort of post-grad training/school. All of the PhDs I know who have recently graduated had jobs waiting for them. I'm not buying this data at all!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/graphics/2003/07/graphics/lalalala.gif

      Delete
    2. Please consider the possibility that anecdotes from 2013/2014 may not reflect Census Bureau statistics from 2009 through 2011.

      Delete
    3. Why would you then publish something outdated? Wouldn't current statistics be more applicable to students who are getting ready to graduate in May? You also may consider that if this data was taken in 2009 it would be a reflection of the Recession and again not entirely accurate because that was an isolated time and not a true indication of how scientist with degrees are truly employed.Or will be employed in the future.

      Delete
    4. Because the data was just published by the New York Federal Reserve, and was their most recent analysis and considered newsworthy by most outlets that are concerned about these problems?

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/06/usa-studentloans-jobs-idUSL2N0KG1SW20140106

      Delete
  10. I would then suggest you find something peer reviewed by statitions and recently published in a reputable journal with an impact factor greater then say a 2. Nothing fancy but ACS Publications might be a place to start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent choice, I think that data was published here: http://bit.ly/Mwlxyn

      I'm unclear as to what "statitions" are, though.

      Delete
    2. Anon4:48/5:54, I don't think this is productive, so let's try to move this in a more productive direction.

      1. Would you be happier if I were to edit the post to add dates? If so, I'm happy to do that, I think it would be an improvement.
      2. I think you should understand that the US government's statistics agencies are always a year or two behind.
      3. If you would like, I'd be happy to make a small financial bet (say $10) on the direction of the employment and underemployment of scientists, as reflected by Census Bureau statistics, specifically the American Community Survey.

      Feel free to contact me at chemjobber -at- gmail/dot/com if so.

      Delete
  11. Never mind. Anon is an ACS troll attempting to obfuscate the real issue: Ph.Ds not getting jobs. Our problem in the US is the steady erosion of employment due to exponentially increased demand for immediate profitability by shareholders of companies. Look what happened to Bell Labs or any of the other research power houses. R and D costs money and investors would rather grab cash now than invest in the future.

    ReplyDelete