It's easy to debate the value of college, but it's impossible to doubt the clear difference between the unemployment rates of those with a college degree and those without a college degree. Just 4 percent of America's bachelor's holders (in blue in the graph below) are unemployed today. For high-school grads who skip college (in purple), the jobless rate is twice as high.
That picture looks pretty conclusive. Go to college, and you'll raise your odds of finding a job. So what do we make of all these stories about 50 percent of recent graduates being unemployed?
A new study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics helps us answer the question. They take a snapshot of the employment situation for recent college grads from 2007 through 2011 and find that they are always unemployed at higher levels than the rest of the country (especially the guys). Here are those numbers in a chart:
I can make this picture even simpler by showing you two years: 2007 and 2011. As you can see, the recession and the weak recovery have been hard on every group. But they've been hardest on those with less than a high-school degree. They saw the steepest rise in unemployment.
I think the following five things are true about college in America today: