e Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently published a report on the labor market for college graduates. The conclusion is that younger workers with a degree are less likely to be unemployed than their non-college graduate peers.

  • 9.5% unemployment for all young workers
  • 4.2% for recent college graduates.

Unemployment for 4-year degree holders is 2.6%. During the height of the Great Recession, it never went over 5%.

Also, if you do have a job, income is also higher. The average worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $43,000, vs. $25,000 for people with a high school diploma. The highest average incomes are reported for people with pharmacy degrees ($110,000 mid-career average), computer engineering ($100,000), electrical engineering ($95,000), chemical engineering ($94,000), mechanical engineering ($91,000) and aerospace engineering ($90,000).

Lowest average mid-career incomes: social services ($40,000), early childhood education ($40,000), elementary education ($42,000), special education ($43,000) and general education ($44,000).

The lowest unemployment rates include miscellaneous education (1.0%), agriculture (1.8%), construction services (1.8%) and nursing (2.0%).

Yes some people in every career fall above or below the averages. No, not all graduates end up in a career that tracks that degree. (Of particular note: the list does not include a financial planning or investment advisory degree.) But the point is that despite the cost, a college degree does seem to provide significantly better odds of getting a job, and getting paid more for the job you do get.