Over the past two decades, the average amount of debt a student takes on has roughly doubled in real terms, leading to greater scrutiny of the financial returns of college. Over a lifetime, the earnings of workers who have majored in engineering, computer science or business were as much as 50 percent higher than the earnings of those who majored in the humanities, the arts, education and psychology. Graduates with degrees in architecture, which is closely linked with the construction industry, showed the highest levels of unemployment.
Majors aligned with particular occupations and industries — such as education and health — tended to show lower unemployment rates. Unemployment rates were generally higher among those with degrees in non-technical fields, the authors said. Unemployment among those with a recent high school diploma was 22.9 percent, and 31.5 percent of recent high school dropouts were without a job.
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