The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is out with a new study of the labor market for college grads, and lurking within it is a factoid that I imagine will have a long and fruitful life bouncing around the Internet. It finds that just 27 percent of bachelor's degree holders work in jobs "directly related" to their college major, as shown in the graph below on the right.
Meanwhile, as shown on the left, they find just 62 percent of BA's have a job even requiring their degree, which implies a very, very large number of over-educated, underemployed Americans are wasting their talents in the workforce.
We'll get to both stats in time, but let's start with the bit about college majors. When I say the 27 percent figure is a "factoid," I mean it in Norman Mailer's original sense -- something that looks and smells sort of like a fact, but is not one. There a couple reasons why. First, the study doesn't look at Americans with graduate degrees, so any pre-med students who actually became doctors don't get counted, nor do econ grads who went on to get MBA's or English teachers who got went from comp lit to a master's in education. That might seem like a nitpick, until your realize that more than a third of BA's 25 or older have an advanced degree.