A Closer Look

Recent Graduates in Education in US – A puzzling picture

The picture for the most recent graduates is more puzzling. Remembering that we are looking only at those who are employed, it’s surprising that the majority in the final year of the data are employed somewhere other than in education. Maybe some of this has to do with how the data was collected. (A respondent might have been interviewed after graduating while waiting for a teaching job that started in the fall, and may be temporarily employed in another industry.) However, the penultimate year’s data only had 54 percent of those employed, employed in education. It appears that there may be something of an increasing disconnect between training and employment in education.

It’s hard to know whether something odd is going on for those with recent education degrees, but I have a little bit of evidence that if something has changed, whatever it is isn’t unique to ed BAs. I’ve redrawn below the first figure with two changes. The new version adds in labor force status for BAs from non-education fields. And I’ve restricted the data to the last ten years to magnify the most recent evidence.

The figure shows that both out-of-the-labor-force and unemployment status for people with education BAs is noticeably higher for recent cohorts. However, the same increase shows up even more strongly for other BAs. So to the extent that recent BAs are not being quickly matched with jobs, the underlying cause does not seem to be special to the field of education.

Is employment for recent ed BAs different from the past? The unemployment rate for recent ed BAs is higher than the rate for those out five years or more. On the other hand, the same thing is true for recent grads in other fields. My guess—but it is just a guess—is that we are still seeing something of a roiled labor market in the aftermath of the Great Recession and that in the longer run careers of recent grads will look a lot like those of earlier cohorts.

Everyone knows that there is a great deal of turnover among teachers. Still, it appears that most education majors do end up in education, and what’s more, the majority of education majors do spend most of their career working in schools. The data here gives something of a different picture from the commonly held view of enormous attrition rates in teaching. My suspicion is that the difference comes from how the data is collected. The charts here track education BAs, while many other studies track beginning teachers. Teachers move between schools and even between states. What’s more, teachers do drop out of teaching for childcare and other reasons and then return later. It’s likely that teachers who make such changes sometimes get lost in teacher-tracking data.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  Careers of ed students: Yesterday and today | Brookings Institution


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