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Here is the complete question from NY Times UpshotWhat do you think the unemployment rate is for 25-to-34-year-olds who graduated from a four-year college? (Hint: for those with only a high school degree, it’s 7.4 percent.)

Answer: You have to use this interactive tool to find out!

Why is this important information for your students to have?

It turns out many people think the unemployment rate is higher for college graduates compared to high school graduates, which perplexed the folks at NYT:

We asked: “The unemployment rate for 24-to-34-year-olds without a four-year college degree is 7 percent. What do you think it is for 25-to-34-year-olds with a four-year college degree?” More than half of the respondents thought that the jobless rate for college graduates was higher. We were becoming convinced that this was a real misunderstanding, not a flaw in the surveys, each of which was run by Google, each with over 1,000 respondents. A report by the Pew Research Center found that the results from Google’s surveys are typically quite similar to the results from Pew’s telephone surveys.

So, somehow a significant number of people have the mistaken impression that having a college degree makes you MORE likely to be unemployed than someone with a high school degree. The problem is that this pervasive myth can cause harm for the reasons the article cites:

There is some evidence that having a college degree doesn’t guarantee a good job, but the alternative is much worse. Young people who have earned a college degree have substantially lower unemployment rates than those who haven’t. Since 2000, young college graduates, on average, have an unemployment rate that is 5.5 percentage points lower than those of non-graduates. And this gap typically widens during recessions; it expanded to 10 percentage points at the depths of the Great Recession.

Here are some great follow-up questions to ask your students about this resource:

  1. Did you think the percentage was higher or lower than the current unemployment rate for 24-to-35-year-olds who graduated from a four-year college? How far off were you? What made you think it was this rate?
  1. More than half of the respondents who the NY Times asked this question to thought that the unemployment rate for 24-to-35-year-olds was HIGHER than people in the same age bracket who did not graduate from a four-year college. Why do you think that is?
  1. How can this misperception influence those who are undecided about going to college?

Want this resource and questions in slide format to use in class? Click here!


Check out the NGPF Interactive Library for other engaging tools!