Megan McArdle highlights an economics paper showing that skilled workers with advanced degrees are increasingly ending up in low-skill jobs (e.g., barista), pushing low-skilled workers out entirely. You, with your degree in women’s studies from Bryn Mawr, are headed for the Starbucks at Suburban Square. Here’s McArdle:
Obviously, if Beaudry et al right, this is ferociously depressing news. It suggests that we’re pushing more and more people into (more and more expensive) college programs, even as the number of jobs in which they can use those skills has declined. A growing number of students may be in a credentialling arms race to gain access to routine service jobs. Or maybe the productivity of our nation’s wait staff is spiking as more skilled workers flood into these jobs.
Unfortunately, there’s no obvious policy response to this. It’s easier to create more college educated workers through government policy than it is to create jobs for them. It’s not even obvious what the personal response should be–except that if you’re planning to major in English, you should maybe see if you can’t get a job at Starbucks instead.