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January 5, 2012

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Unemployment Varies by College Major, Study Finds

By Beckie Supiano, Chronical of Higher Education

Employment rates are higher for recent college graduates than for those with less education, but job prospects vary by major, according to a report released on Wednesday by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

Architecture majors face the highest unemployment rate, 13.9 percent, of all 22- to 26-year-olds with bachelor's degrees. That's the result of the recession's toll on the construction industry, says the report, "Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment, and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal."

In general, it says, unemployment is higher among recent graduates with nontechnical fields of study, such as the arts (11.1 percent) and humanities and liberal arts (9.4 percent). Graduates who studied health or education, however, both have unemployment rates of only 5.4 percent.

"If your major sounds like a job—engineering, for instance, sounds like you're going to be an engineer—you're going to be in better shape," said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the center and lead author of the report. But that doesn't always hold, he added, as with architects. For the most part, engineers have strong job prospects, but civil and mechanical engineers face higher unemployment, he said.

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