So Much For The Benefits Of College In America's "New Normal"?

Tyler Durden's picture

Continuing with the theme of the secular shift in the labor pool (not cyclical, as the Fed still mistakenly believes: it will take it at least one more year to understand it has been wrong about this aspect of the New Normal economy too, just as it was wrong for decades about the Flow vs Stock debate), it is not only men who are fresh out of luck. As a reminder, we observed earlier that the labor force participation rate for men has just dropped to an all time low. It turns out there is another class of workers whose participation rate is at the lowest in series history: that of "25 year olds with a Bachelor's degree and higher", i.e. college grads. At 75.5%, it is the lowest since this data has been kept by the BLS. But not all is abysmal in America's labor force. While the share of workers with a college degree has plunged to all time lows, a bright spot can be found when observing the labor force participation rate of those who never bothered with college, and for whom high school was their last known degree-granting institution. At 59.9%, the participation rate is well of its 2012 lows of 59.0% and steadily rising, in fact, to borrow a term from the housing bulls, it may well have "bottomed". Now there is some truly great news for the future of America's highly educated workforce.

None of the above, however, matters to hordes of young, impressionable wannabe college grads for whom college is the only hope out there, no matter the cost. Sadly, the cost is rising exponentially, and as we showed recently, total Federally-funded student loan debt outstanding is now at all time highs.

Luckily, the cost of the debt is at record lows. Sadly, the principal will still need repayment, as cohort after cohort of unemployed students will soon find out, and also find out that there is no discharge of student debt in bankruptcy: it is, indeed, the proverbial gift that keeps on taking.

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SheepleLOVEcheddarbaybiscuits's picture

I am a recent college grad with BA econ. Who wants to give me a job? Those student loans aren't going to pay themselves....

Clueless Economist's picture

I am a recent grad with a BA in African-American Studies and a Masters in Lesbian Literature.

I can't seem to find a job.  Should I get my Post-Doctorate in Economics or Trans-Gender/Trans-Sexual History?

BurningFuld's picture

Absolutely, but ONLY if they let you borrow another $50k. Get whatever degree you want...price is no object.

francis_sawyer's picture

So you borrowed money to play beer pong for 4 years?...

economics9698's picture

College degrees are not worth a shit because the textbooks are full of propaganda.  When the housing bubble came along I had six years of economic study under my belt and I had no fucking clue what was going on.  Not a fucking clue.  Freidman, Keynes, Samuelson, Fisher, all fucking bull shit that I paid for with my time and money to learn shit.

Yea I am fucking pissed, the fucking housing boom/bust cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars because I did not fucking understand economics, and I teach the fucking subject at the university level.

I had to completely re-learn the subject buying books outside the classroom, Rothbard, von Mises, Hayek, Ahamad, Raico, and completely relearn the subject.

When I read students papers today it plain as day these idiots are brainwashed with complete bull shit garbage.  Shit like we need to raise the minimum wage to a “working wage” and other useless bull shit that no employer will pay for.  I fucking cant even read this shit without grabbing a waste basket to puke in.  It’s pathetic and they all think they are fucking geniuses, that they have some secret that Al Gore told them that no one else knows and they will save the world by the brilliance of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour or some shit they learned from Van Jones.

I mean they get to be juniors and seniors and they cannot fucking write a coherent economic thought.  Fucking drives me crazy.

Why are degrees useless?  Because students are lucky if they don’t know shit and worse if they believe the shit they were taught in college.

r00t61's picture

This is an epic rant.

+1 to you, good sir.

hussaifa's picture


and you can have a hearty AMEN! 

SheepleLOVEcheddarbaybiscuits's picture

Trust me I figured out very quickly that the keynesian economics classes I was learning were completely wrong. Once I finished all the lower level course work, I took my major electives with Austrian professors. It wasn't all bullshit, as many may just quickly judge since it was an economics degree taught in the US. Minimum wage makes no sense in a free market....

Lore's picture

I'm in the same position. It took me a few years of real work to recognize fully that my first academic program was complete and utter garbage. One thing I can brag about is that I graduated without a dime in debt. I worked hard at crummy summer jobs, but THEY WERE JOBS. In the years that followed, I targeted courses in specific areas related directly to my career and interests.


RichardP's picture

Take only those courses that will enable you to be a functional cog in the wheel.  Don't take any courses that would help you learn how to think and/or relate to the larger world around you.  And, most importantly - stay away from any courses that would help you learn to see that the emperor has no clothes.


Vendetta's picture

I took micro and macro economics courses for an accounting degree, after those 2 courses I left college because it was obvious it was BS...none of it made sense or, at a minimum was arbitrary rules and 'theories' changed at a whim due to a designated 'economist' who makes up a theory that the fiat money masters like and want to promote.  I settled for engineering which is actual provable science like science based fields.  The dominant economics theories of today are chosen and promoted by the money powerz to promote THEIR agenda.  The evidence of this is how few, if any, economists or 'monetary theorists' that subscribe to austrian or alternative economic lines of thought are given a microphone or have television camera pointed at them in the 'media'. 

rbg81's picture

The truth is that the majority (~70%) of college students don't care if they learn something or not.  What they do care about is getting an A with the minimal amount of effort.  On some level, many DO realize that that degree in Sociology or Woman's Studies is pretty much worthless.  But they pursue them anyway because it easier for them to keep up their GPA.  And that is a crucial point (especially for those who are adverse to work) because they need to keep their GPAs up to qualify for financial aid (read:  student loans).  While degrees that can realistically earn them a living (like accounting, nursing, engineering or computer science) are not even considered because they're too hard and might pull down the all important GPA.

The best you can do for these students is to convince them to major in Criminal Justice.  They'll always be a need for cops and/or prison screws.

Lore's picture

That's perceptive. Institutions are looking after THEIR interests. The relationship between the education industrial complex and the loan industrial complex is mutually beneficial to the detriment of the naive student.

I don't agree re: Criminal Justice. It's just another mill.  Law enforcement agencies deliver their own training. Speaking of mills, another big one in Canada is Social Work. In a country of far too much government, social workers are Legion.

sessinpo's picture

Here here. I once received a C for an econ class after getting into an argument with the professor. My argument was that government spending masked weakness in the economy. He was a keynsian.

Looking back. I don't regret it. His PhD is worth shit to me.

SheepleLOVEcheddarbaybiscuits's picture

Yea that's exactly what I did......this forum has really went downhill, rife with ignorant, judgemental losers.

Vendetta's picture

Call me psycho or i'll kill ya

Element's picture

Those graphs ... definition of what does not work ... literally

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Move to Washington DC. There is a place for you in the Obama administration. You'll fit right in at the DHS.

nmewn's picture

Occupy Faculty Lounges...bitchez.

Law97's picture

I'd advise Trans-Gender history for your post doc.  You don't want to be stuck with a useless degree.


akak's picture

I stand eager and ready to boldly enter the workforce with my BA in Differently-Abled Pigmentally-Challenged Womyn's Studies, with a minor in the History of Marxist Thought.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

akak said:

I stand eager and ready to boldly enter the workforce with my BA in Differently-Abled Pigmentally-Challenged Womyn's Studies, with a minor in the History of Marxist Thought.

My recommendation is to continue your education by pursuing a MA and even a PhD at Dartmouth:

Kobe Beef's picture

All hail our new Chief Diversity Officer!!!

oops, I said "chief"--that's racist.

Son of Loki's picture

Clueless, I'm surprised Harvard has not jumped all over you with an advanced faculty position.

economics9698's picture

Harvard hires Yids, black, females, lesbians, homosexuals if they are democrat, and no republican white males.

Fecklesslackey's picture

You forgot Cherokee with no Indian blood.

the 300000000th percent's picture

+1000 there a lot of fluffy bullshit degrees out there. If you want a job and your in college, get a real degree and switch your major to some facet of engineering. Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Enviromental, Chemical.

babylon15's picture

Engineering companies have laid off just as many people as every other sector.  I know many engineers that lost their jobs.  There is no STEM shortage at all.  Lockheed Martin announced it will slash 10% of its workforce later in the fiscal year.

the 300000000th percent's picture

You have a much better chance at getting a job anywhere with an engineering degree over an african american lesbian studies degree, period. Its the difference between sombody with intelligence vs somebody who is "educated" 

Kobe Beef's picture

Bullshit. What this country needs is more Diversity Officers, dammit!! FORWARD!

FieldingMellish's picture

Choose from the top of the list, avoid the bottom. Either way... minimize or avoid debt altogether.

Vendetta's picture

Without manufacturing IN this country, none of it matters.  Trade policy has been remarkably kept out of the political limelight and has been a serious issue for a long time.

LongSoupLine's picture

medical and specific to nursing, physical therapy and aging care is where it's at.  here in virginia, the 2 year community college nursing program grads are getting 30k spot bonuses from recruiters coming from all over the country.

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

This.  Anything in the medical field = gravy until the boomers either die off or can no longer vote.  The engineering/computer science recommendation always makes me giggle, as if we even design or invent shit in the US anymore.  Every fucking thing has been outsourced you dipshits!  If you're not taking care of geezers, you have no job security.

Kobe Beef's picture

How about Professional Contract Killer, then? There's more than one way to "take care of" geezers. haha

Colonel Klink's picture

Yeah but make up your mind, they don't like you changing mid stream.

A Nanny Moose's picture

You are well qualified for a cabinet level position in The Obamabot administration.

Meesohaawnee's picture

thanks to Ben Bernake and his onslaught of "markets" even worse. Do you question the validity of what you learned? I mean really he torched the textbooks

random shots's picture

BA in Econ, eh? So you learn to draw intersecting lines on a graph, do some basic calculus, and blame unforseen externalities when the goal seek and actual output differ signficantally? As your career counselor you have a future in teaching the econ doctorine to others or selling stuff...


Full Disclosure:I have a minor in Econ. 



SheepleLOVEcheddarbaybiscuits's picture

this is complete judge when you know nothing about me or what I studied....that is the definition of ignorance

philipat's picture

Analysis of the new jobs being created shows that the new jobs are mostly low skilled low wage jobs. Last I heard, it doesn't require a Colleg degree to flip burgers?

JohnG's picture



But there's all these buttons to push and timers going off all the time....lots of levers.  And the making change.

Oh wait....the registers do that too.

Slightly Insane's picture

Now that's freakin "Change You Can Believe In" ....... That's exactly what the current ineptocracy meant by "transforming Amerika".

Freddie's picture

I was paying for something at sub/pizza place.  I paid cash.  The kid could not ring it up properly and had no clue on how to make change.