The Case For The Business Major

Recruiting and jobs

At a time when skeptics continue to question the value of higher education, a new report convincingly shows that college is pretty much the only route to making a living in the U.S. The modern economy continues to leave behind Americans without a college education. Workers with a high school diploma or less saw virtually no jobs recovery.

Out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million went to workers with at least some college education, according to the report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Graduate degree holders gained 3.8 million jobs, bachelor’s degree holders gained 4.6 million jobs, and associate degree holders gained 3.1 million jobs. Workers with a high school diploma or less added only 80,000 jobs during the recovery.

The report — written by Anthony P. Carnevale, Tamara Jayasundera and Artem Gulish and titled “America’s Divided America: College Haves and Have-Nots” — puts to rest the arguments of MBA bashers and college naysayers who have argued that college is not necessary for success in America. The higher ed skeptics often trot out the stories of such college dropouts as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or the late Steve Jobs to make the point that a piece of parchment isn’t a requirement to the American Dream. The report proves that these are rare and isolated examples of success in an economy that now demands workers with higher skills.

THE ARGUMENT FOR BUSINESS EDUCATION COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE STRONGER

The argument for business education could not have been made stronger, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level. The report found that consulting and business services added the largest number of jobs in the recovery — a whopping 2.5 million. And many of those jobs — 1.6 million — were in management, also the occupation that added the most jobs during the recovery. Healthcare professional and technical occupations added the second most jobs — 1.5 million.

The numbers underlie vast structural changes in the labor market since the immediate post-war period. Industries that employ managerial and professional workers, such as consulting and business services, have grown to 46% of the U.S. workforce today, up from only 28% in 1947. Meantime, production industries now employ just 19% of the workforce, down from nearly half of the workforce in 1947.

It’s why business school career management offices have been reporting healthy increases in recruiting for MBA graduates even as job creation continued to decline in the early stages of the economic recovery. In fact, the report found that workers with master’s degrees or higher gained 253,000 jobs in the midst of the recession, from December of 2007 to January of 2010 — when everyone else in the workforce saw massive declines (see chart below). During the recovery, workers with master’s degrees then gained 3.8 million jobs, a total of more than 4 million jobs created since 2007.

Source: Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce

Source: Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.