Thursday, April 28, 2011

Education in America - Unemployment by field of study

As the costs of education in America continue to rise, people must seriously consider the value of education as it relates to the job market.  Education isn't just about getting a job, but becoming a "professional" something in life often does involve some sort of specialty education, particularly at the collegiate level.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks both employment and unemployment numbers each year and they break it down by field (or trade).  Unfortunately they don't do a great job of presenting the information in a format that's easily analyzed, so I imported the numbers into Excel and did some manipulation.  Here are the results (click on image for full size):

Unemployment by field of study - from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In good economic times, most professional fields enjoy a relatively low rate of unemployment, below 3 percent.  But in bad economic times, engineering and business fields take the brunt of the professional layoffs.  Management of course tends to stay below the previous two since they're the ones doing the layoffs.  The absolute best job security is in the healthcare and legal fields. The following table is a more detailed view of the data, including more professions.

Unemployment rate by field detailed table - from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Notable fields are the construction industry which hit 20% unemployment in 2010, followed by the farming industry close behind at 16%.  For those who may be curious about the actual numbers of workers involved, here they are (click to enlarge).  Be sure to compare these to the number of people graduating each year by field of study.

Employment numbers by field - from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Next up are the salaries for these fields and the trends over the last 10 years.

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