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July 1992

Reconciling conflicting data on jobs for college graduates

Daniel Hecker

If, as some analysts contend, the rising relative wages of college graduates in the 1980's suggest a shortage of these workers, why did one-fifth of them accept jobs that traditionally do not require a degree for entry? This article analyzes earnings for college and high school graduates, concluding that the relative earnings increase for college graduates during the 1980's was the result of a worsening job market for male high school graduates, not because of a shortage of workers with college degrees.

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