A College Major Matters Even More In A Recession

Career College Central summary:

  • Recessions don’t treat all college graduates equally. Those who major in subjects that command higher salaries, like engineering and finance, increase their earnings advantage when they graduate into a recession. And those who major in subjects that lead to lower-paying jobs, like philosophy and music, are even more disadvantaged than in normal economic times.
  • The data, reported in a new, unpublished study by three Yale economists, shows that a college degree is even more important during a recession. And it demonstrates that during tough economic times, the pay gap widens between people in scientific and business professions and those in the arts and social sciences.
  • Take finance majors. In normal economic times, they earn 24 percent more than the average college major when they are one year out of college. But in a recession, they earn 32 percent more than the average. At the other end of the earnings spectrum, religion and philosophy majors earn 42 percent less than the average major their first year out of college, and 55 percent less during a recession.
  • Not all college degrees are created equal, and some provide graduates with more shelter from economic storms than others. That is yet another variable for students to keep in mind as they weigh which career to pursue.

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