Friday, October 22, 2010

Costly but not helpful

Richard Vedder, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education puts out some fascinating stats:
Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.

Read all that here. For 19 years I worked in a strange and wonderful typesetting shop in Austin. People who got to Austin at a certain point in their young lives, usually right after high school, wished nothing more than never to leave Austin, a land where it was always afternoon, a place where people go from adolescence to Social Security without ever passing through an adult phase. This type house employed a lot of proofreaders, and at various times I worked with a guy with a law degree, a guy with a PhD in botany, and more MAs than you could count. It was an astonishing place with all that talent and education working for nine or 10 dollars an hour. I often felt that those people would have done better to pocket their tuition money and go to the library and read for four years.


Pilot said...

There seems to be a warp in the world that is Austin/Houston when it comes down to what is and what should be. I am a college dropout.....yet I make more money that most people kdrug dealers do(I dealt drugs too-most drug dealers do well just to pay for their stash). I saw the same phenomenon in Austin you describe, back in the '70s - folks with degrees, taking a night managers job at Schlotsky's or TCBY, or Safeway, just to avoid leaving town after graduation. Funny, the locals I knew there, those born there, had a much better track record for making a career and staying in town in a good job. Leaving Austin was both the hardest, and the smartest thing I ever did. I wouldn't trade 1970 to 1980.....well maybe up till about '78, for anything. I can safely say I was lucky to even survive my last two years there. I think I could handle living there again, but as it was when I left........I doubt I could afford it.

Pilot said...

.......additionally, I will say that if being college educated is the catalyst that compels my bartender, waitress, or waiter to wash their hands and not pass on a side order of e-coli or a bout of strep throat or amoebic dysentery with my meal or drink, then some good came out of their toughing college out for five or six years. If they have no more ambition than to not actively seek out employment pursuant to their major, they are probably a little more of a slacktivist than I want preparing my taxes or treating me when I am under anesthesia anyway.