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Latest Job Numbers Show a College Degree Is Still Worth it

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 3.9 percent of college graduates are unemployed.

There's no denying the class of 2012 is heading out into a tough job market. The latest job numbers revealed that May wasn't exactly a banner month for hiring—the number of unemployed Americans is up slightly. But people with a college degree still have a much easier time landing jobs than their peers without one.

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data only 3.9 percent of college graduates over the age of 25 are unemployed. In comparison, only 7.9 percent of Americans with an associate’s degree or only a few college courses under their belt are unemployed. For Americans with just a high school diploma the number jumps to 8.1 percent. Unsurprisingly, the highest unemployment numbers are for high school dropouts—13 percent are jobless.

While the numbers overall seem like good news for current college freshman who, according to UCLA's annual Freshman Survey, have switched the major reason why they’re going to college from wanting to "learn more about things that interest me" to being "able to get a better job", one caveat is that these BLS numbers don’t take into account students just graduating or who've been out of school for a year or so. Indeed, according to a recent Northeastern University study, just over half of college graduates under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed last year. This recent data also doesn’t reveal whether degree holders over 25 are employed in their field or study or if they’re just making ends meet by waiting tables.

Still, these latest numbers support the conventional wisdom that the more education you have, the more employable you'll be. And since the average college grad earns $2.67 million over her lifetime—twice the $1.3 million a high school graduate can expect to take home—going to college is still, overall, worth the time and financial investment.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Rodney Martin

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