Putting Education Reform To The Test

Which College Graduates Are Unemployed?

Mark Wilson / Getty News Images

Gov. Rick Scott is pointing towards U.S. Census data to support his argument that state universities should focus on STEM degrees.

Gov. Rick Scott is stoking his feud with social scientists, adding some data to his argument that state universities should push more students toward degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields.

Scott’s press office sent around a link to a Wall Street Journal collection of unemployment rates by college major. The database was compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce from 2010 U.S. Census data.

“This effective tool shows which majors have the highest employment and unemployment rates along with their associated earnings,” spokesman Brian Burgess noted in an email sent Friday.

Scott drew the ire of anthropologists last month after the governor singled them out as one field where future job prospects are lacking. State resources should not be spent educating students who are less likely to find work, he argued.

The Wall Street Journal database provides some backup to Scott, with anthropology grads reporting a 6.9 percent unemployment rate. That’s tied for 37th-highest among all reported degrees.

But it’s a mixed bag for STEM degrees.

Aerospace, mechanical and chemical engineering all reported unemployment rates of 3.8 percent or less. Just 3.5 percent of mathematics and computer science grads were out of work.

But biological engineering grads reported an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent while 7 percent of computer engineering grads were out of work.

Library science grads reported the highest jobless rate at 15 percent.

Journalism and mass media, another field Scott singled out, reported unemployment rates of at least 6.9 percent.

The best field for jobs? Teaching (2010 data would not account for jobs lost due to the end of federal stimulus money or continuing budget cuts).

Teaching grads all reported a jobless rate of 5 percent or less, with math teachers coming in at 3.4 percent and history teachers at 3 percent.

STEM jobs do dominate the rankings of the highest paid positions, according to the data, another argument in favor of Scott’s position to more efficiently use public education dollars.


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