1 in 5 U.S. Workers: I'm Too Educated for My Job

Actually, that's not so bad, by international standards. 
Reuters

When Americans aren't fretting over being undereducated, we're usually fretting about being overeducated.

Every so often, writers and academics start sounding the alarm about a coming glut of college graduates who will end up doomed to a life of underemployment. And, when the economy is down, those warnings can seem pretty reasonable.

That's why the chart below, from a recent report by the OECD on jobs skills around the world, caught my eye. Though it doesn't deal specifically with the college educated, it shows that about 19 percent of all Americans say they have more education than necessary to qualify for their job. That's actually below average among the 22 countries listed. In Japan and the UK, the figure is around 30 percent. At the other end of the spectrum in Italy, it's about 13 percent.

So there really are lots of overeducated Americans — and English and Japanese and Australians and Estonians for that matter, too. Interestingly, the OECD report finds that based on their literacy scores, most workers who claim to be overqualified for their jobs are probably well suited for them in terms of their raw skills. So it might just be that in any country with a functioning school system, some people's credentials are going to outstrip their talents. 

Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Business

Just In