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Casualties of Recession Return

November 20, 2012

These days, there may be something more valuable to a job seekers than a four-year college degree: a two-year college degree. Employment for Americans with an associate degree or some college has increased by 578,000 the past six months to 35.2 million, while payrolls for those with at least a bachelor’s are up by just 314,000 to 46.5 million, Labor Department figures show. The trend underlines that some of the mid-skill jobs that disappeared in the recession are coming back, and it may signal more lasting growth in such occupations. They include operators of computerized factory machines, heating and air conditioning repair people, X-ray technicians, medical records specialists and low to midlevel managers.

In recent years, the shares of these jobs has not grown sharply relative to those requiring bachelor’s, but they may have begun to do that. By contrast, employment for people with a high school diploma or less has been stagnant since 2010, after plummeting in the downturn. After the recession began almost five years ago, many factory, construction and other midskilled jobs were eliminated even as employment for those with bachelor’s degrees or higher dipped only slightly. In the recovery in 2010 and 2011, payrolls for four-year college graduates increased at more than twice the rate of those who attended community college.

That follows a typical pattern. In recessions, employers lay off lower-skill workers first and in recoveries, they initially hire higher-skill workers. Eventually, those higher-level managers bring on low to midlevel managers. That’s happening now, and so community college graduates are recouping jobs lost in the downturn-a sign of an advancing recovery.

The trend also points to growing demand for skilled workers who can be trained relatively quickly. Many laid-off workers have turned top community colleges and vocational schools in recent years to rapidly retool for new careers. That has helped boost enrollment by 14.6% since 2007, vs. 1.3% the previous five years, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. By contrast, many recent four-year college graduates have struggled to find work. The two-year schools are offering more of an applicable, practical value and many community colleges have better ties to local employers. It’s unlikely an associate’s degree will become more coveted than a bachelor’s, but the disparity between the two could narrow.

Gunwel Associates is here to help, in any way we can, with all of your financial concerns. That includes your quest for employment, figuring your tax liabilities, preparing your tax returns, helping with your bookkeeping needs and any financial planning you may need. You work hard for your money, let Gunwel work smart to help you keep it. Call us today at 615-730-9444 and visit our website at www.gunwel.com as we are here to help. See you soon!

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