Posted by: Louis Lavelle on January 5, 2012
Ask most people which college majors fare the worst in the job market and I suspect many would say something like philosophy or art history—fields with few job prospects outside the ivory tower, and fairly low-paying ones at that.
According to a new study, you would be wrong. “Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal,” by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce says the college degree with the worst unemployment is neither of those. It’s architecture.
Recent college graduates 22 to 26 years old with architecture majors had an unemployment rate of 13.9 percent in 2009-10, followed by the arts (11.1 percent), and humanities and the liberal arts (9.4 percent). The reason, according to the report, was the collapse of the construction and home building industry in the recession. It’s worth noting that the unemployment rate for would-be architects improves with age: for those in the 30-to-54 age group it’s 9.2 percent, and for those with graduate degrees it’s 7.7 percent.
If it's any consolation, architecture majors in the 22-to-26 age group had a halfway decent salary: $36,000. The same can't be said for those who studied the humanities ($31,000) or the arts ($30,000). The lowest unemployment was had by education and health majors, 5.4 percent, with the highest salaries going to engineering students, $55,000.
And how did business students do? That kind of depends on what, exactly, they studied. As a group the recent business graduates had an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent and annual salaries averaging $39,000. But among business majors, hospitality management students had both the highest unemployment (9.1 percent) and the lowest salaries ($32,000). On the opposite end of the scale were finance students, with 6.6 percent unemployment and annual salaries averaging $44,000. Although with Wall Street hemorrhaging jobs, there's no guarantee that will last forever.