…Is the topic of my latest article on The American Lawyer.
Two years ago I made fun of President Obama’s ludicrous claim that “more than 60 percent of jobs in the next decade will require more than a high school diploma.” It appeared Obama appropriated the statistic from Anthony P. Carnevale’s paper for the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce (GCEW), entitled, “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.” It shrieks on page 22 that 63 percent of jobs created by 2018 would require a college education: 33 percent bachelor’s degrees, and 30 percent associate’s degrees or just some college.
As I wrote in January 2014, Carnevale and his colleagues reasoned that the BLS was holding occupational credential requirements constant when they should drift with times. As non-college jobs go increasingly to college-educated workers, we should consider those jobs as requiring college education.
If you’re scratching your head wondering if Carnevale is rationalizing credential inflation, then you have no hope of employment in a D.C. think tank. (Maybe you didn’t go to college?) In the fourth appendix, the authors merely counter-argue, “BLS’ educational and training requirement data undercount postsecondary degrees by 22 million in 2008. This implies that 22 million workers are overeducated. The overwhelming consensus in the literature contradicts this.”
Thanks to the most recent publication of the BLS’s employment projections (tables 1.7 and 1.11), I get 15.8 million people with a bachelor’s degree or higher in jobs requiring a high-school education or less. On the bright side, that’s down 100,000 jobs from two years ago. That backlog won’t clear until the mid-22nd century.
It’s true that occupations can change and benefit from productivity advances, and many occupations do not require a single credential to enter them. However, the question GCEW should be asking is what jobs overqualified workers are taking. The answer isn’t too compelling.
These twenty occupations account for half of the 12.9 million bachelor’s-degree holders working in high school or less jobs. These occupations dominate among master’s-degree and doctorate holders as well. Maybe some of these folks over 25 are in these jobs temporarily (they’d have to be for many), but at that age it’s pretty implausible that they’re on track for college-premium-magic careers.
Overall, 19.3 million college-and-higher people are qualified or underqualified for their work, and 27.4 million workers are at least somewhat overqualified, which includes PhDs working in bachelor’s jobs.
In contrast to the GCEW’s forecast, the BLS essentially says that 27.7 percent of the jobs to be created by growth and replacement over the next decade will require an associate’s degree or higher. (BA’s are at 20.5 percent.) High-school and less will account for 64.2 percent. Of the 46.5 million jobs that will be created, here’s a table of the top twenty, accounting for 16 million jobs.
|OCCUPATION||EDUCATION REQUIRED||NO. EMPLOYED (2014) (1,000s)||NO. EMPLOYED (2024) (1,000s)||NEW JOBS (GROWTH + REPLACEMENT) (1,000s)|
|Retail salespersons||No formal educational credential||4,624.9||4,939.1||1,917.2|
|Cashiers||No formal educational credential||3,424.2||3,491.1||1,523.8|
|Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food||No formal educational credential||3,159.7||3,503.2||1,364.6|
|Waiters and waitresses||No formal educational credential||2,465.1||2,534.0||1,255.0|
|Registered nurses||Bachelor’s degree||2,751.0||3,190.3||1,088.4|
|Customer service representatives||High school diploma or equivalent||2,581.8||2,834.8||888.7|
|Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand||No formal educational credential||2,441.3||2,566.4||851.7|
|Office clerks, general||High school diploma or equivalent||3,062.5||3,158.2||756.2|
|Stock clerks and order fillers||No formal educational credential||1,878.1||1,971.1||689.0|
|General and operations managers||Bachelor’s degree||2,124.1||2,275.2||688.8|
|Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners||No formal educational credential||2,360.6||2,496.9||605.2|
|Personal care aides||No formal educational credential||1,768.4||2,226.5||601.1|
|Nursing assistants||Postsecondary nondegree award||1,492.1||1,754.1||599.0|
|Home health aides||No formal educational credential||913.5||1,261.9||554.8|
|Accountants and auditors||Bachelor’s degree||1,332.7||1,475.1||498.0|
|Maids and housekeeping cleaners||No formal educational credential||1,457.7||1,569.4||459.4|
|Cooks, restaurant||No formal educational credential||1,109.7||1,268.7||452.5|
|Maintenance and repair workers, general||High school diploma or equivalent||1,374.7||1,458.1||443.7|
|Childcare workers||High school diploma or equivalent||1,260.6||1,329.9||441.3|
|First-line supervisors of retail sales workers||High school diploma or equivalent||1,537.8||1,605.4||411.3|
Most of these jobs don’t look like they benefit from more education, but hey, maybe Carnevale will reemploy all 15.8 million college grads into jobs that fully utilize their credentials. He only has two years to make it happen.
The LSAC was oddly slow putting up December LSAT data, but that’s okay because I have little to say about it. The number of LSAT takers has grown for five consecutive testing periods, but things slowed down this time.
29,115 people took the LSAT in December, up a mere 1.9 percent over last year. The four-period moving sum grew a mere half a percent to 105,940.
I have no insight into whether this slowdown means anything or is just a blip. I’ll speculate after the February or June administrations.
Facing shrinking law-school enrollments, many law schools have responded by reducing their faculties. The phenomenon is worth measuring because faculty reductions aren’t always announced publicly, often appearing in the guises of retirements and quiet buy-outs. Consequently, the ABA’s 509 information reports can shed light on changes in law-school faculties. Here’s the cumulative distribution up until 2015.
As with last year, I will estimate the decline in fall full-time law-school faculties among the 202 law schools that aren’t in Puerto Rico. The peak for full timers occurred in 2010 (9,093), but that estimate includes the “other full-time faculty” category (clinicians and legal-writing instructors, if I recall), which the ABA no longer tracks independently. The ABA removed that category last year, so at least the 2015-to-2014 comparison will be consistent.
Fall full-time faculty fell by only 3.1 percent this year (-249). Last year the decline was 7.8 percent (-690), indicating a remarkable improvement. Since 2010, the cumulative decline has been 13.3 percent.
Here is a table of law schools ranked by net change in full-time faculty since 2010 and smallest faculty size in 2010. Trivial annual changes may not represent staff reductions and might be attributable to other factors.
|FULL-TIME FACULTY (FALL)|
|RANK||SCHOOL||’10||’14||’15||ANNUAL CHANGE||NET CHANGE|
|2.||Penn State (Dickinson Law)||57||47||19||-28||-38|
|6.||John Marshall (Chicago)||75||56||45||-11||-30|
|10.||Arizona Summit [Phoenix]||32||15||7||-8||-25|
|15.||New York Law School||71||57||48||-9||-23|
|25.||Western New England||36||22||18||-4||-18|
|42.||Atlanta’s John Marshall||35||35||22||-13||-13|
|44.||Lewis and Clark||53||47||40||-7||-13|
|62.||North Carolina Central||42||37||31||-6||-11|
|74.||Arkansas (Little Rock)||30||23||21||-2||-9|
|75.||Washington and Lee||35||36||26||-10||-9|
|96.||Case Western Reserve||47||33||41||8||-6|
|100.||St. Thomas (MN)||29||23||24||1||-5|
|117.||District of Columbia||21||20||18||-2||-3|
|136.||Missouri (Kansas City)||34||30||33||3||-1|
|146.||Texas A&M [Wesleyan]||30||26||30||4||0|
|171.||St. Thomas (FL)||28||32||30||-2||2|
|174.||New York University||151||154||153||-1||2|
|181.||William and Mary||39||49||44||-5||5|
|198.||Massachusetts — Dartmouth||17||15||-2||15|
|201.||Penn State (Penn State Law)||35||35||35|
I believe this is the last topic I regularly cover based on the annual release of the 509 information reports. You can read my past posts for the 2015-16 academic year here:
Once upon a time, more than half of law students at the typical law school paid full tuition.
But that fairy tale is now over. Behold:
I’m astonished. Now, only about a third of law students at the average law school pay full tuition. These schools must be hemorrhaging money given how much they’re fighting over applicants.
At the average private law school in 2014, there were more students who received less-than-half tuition grants than there were students given a full bill. It appears that in a couple years, even the half-to-full-tuition crowd will outnumber the full freighters—and this is last year’s data!
Speaking of hemorrhaging money, in 2014, full-time law students paying full tuition only contributed $1 billion to private law schools. This year, it’s probably less.
Finally, here’s what tuition discounted by the median grant looks like at private law schools by the mean of their full tuition quintiles. The idea here is to set full tuition as the independent variable and let the discounted tuition float.
Last year, the mean discounted tuition among law schools in the second full-tuition quintile was lower than the third’s, meaning second-quintile schools are discounting much more than schools that nominally charge less. I think it’s trivial, but it indicates pricing competition.
That’s all for now.
[The following post first appeared on the LSTB on January 1, 2012. What it said then still applies today, mutatis mutandis. Thanks for reading the blog and have a prosperous 2016!]
Behold, the curse of a long memory. Last January , Google Alerts sent me an e-mail informing me that the National Inflation Association (“Preparing Americans for Hyperinflation”) issued a press release predicting that the higher ed bubble was “set to burst beginning in mid-2011. This bursting bubble will have effects that are even more far-reaching than the bursting of the Real Estate bubble in 2006.” The NIA press release then digressed into legal education (I’m guessing they’d just read David Segal’s first NYT piece a few days earlier), how evil lawyers are, how they produce nothing for society, and how 60 percent of the Senate and 37 percent of the House are lawyers who rig the economy to make jobs for lawyers. It editorializes:
“While everybody went to school to become a lawyer [really?], nobody went to school to become a farmer because Americans didn’t see any money in farming. With prices of nearly all agricultural commodities soaring through the roof in 2010 and with NIA expecting this trend to continue throughout 2011, the few new farmers out there are going to become rich while lawyers are standing at street corners with cups begging for money.”
The NIA would’ve been more helpful if it explained how lawyers could be a drain on society yet remain vulnerable to market forces. Also, one would think unemployed lawyers would try to find non-lawyer jobs instead of begging, but I think it’s important to note that agricultural prices weren’t “soaring through the roof” in 2010. They were growing, yes, but although the NIA was right that they continued to do so in 2011, (a) it’s stalled recently, and (b) they’re no worse than they were in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Oh well. The NIA sternly concluded:
“We must work hard to educate America to the truth if our country is going to have the wherewithal to survive the upcoming bursting college bubble and Hyperinflationary Great Depression.”
I can’t say I’m quite as disappointed as the NIA undoubtedly is that we’re not seeing much inflation these days, and in mid-2011 I didn’t see many colleges cutting their tuition, laying off faculty, closing programs, or trying to retrench themselves. I also remain unconvinced that $1 trillion in student debt can be worse than $8 trillion in mortgage debt. True, student debt is not dischargeable (unlike mortgage deficiencies) absent a showing of an undue hardship, and it’s hampering the recovery and ruining lives, but it’s not worse in quantity than the housing bubble. As for the NIA’s paranoid ranting about lawyers, all economic evidence I’ve seen indicates that legal services have all but stagnated for much of the last two decades. Apparently, those 60 percent of lawyer-senators aren’t very good at creating work for themselves. I suppose the NIA should express appreciation.
Anyway, if anything, inflation would be a boon to underwater homeowners and student debtors because it erodes the real value of their debts, which grew significantly in the 2000s. Here’s household debt to GDP:
Importantly, I’m no macroeconomist but I’ve never heard of a “hyperinflationary depression.” The terms contradict each other. Depressions occur when people take on excessive debt and begin paying it down simultaneously instead of spending money on other things. This is deflationary because new credit isn’t being created, even by the government. By contrast, hyperinflation has only occurred in unusual circumstances, like when a government owes debts to foreigners in a different currency. Weimar Germany, for example, owed gold-dominated war reparations to the Allied powers, and to purchase the gold, it printed money, causing hyperinflation. Zimbabwe isn’t a good comparison either because it’s a small, HIV-ridden landlocked state with an undiversified, oligopolistic agrarian economy while the U.S. is a wealthy, continent-spanning super-state.
As for inflation fears generally, maybe it’s the fact that I have no memory of high inflation, but why isn’t there a “National Personal Income Association” (NPIA) that regularly celebrates increases in Americans’ per capita personal income?
“Per capita personal income has quadrupled since 1980! Prices didn’t even triple! Hooray! We’re rich! Fiat currency forever and ever! ‘You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!'”
I’m sure the NPIA wouldn’t’ve been too thrilled with 2008-09, but personal income is increasing again. The problem has just been that over the decades those gains haven’t been distributed equally. This isn’t a problem of inflation but one of wages and taxation.
Intuition tells me the NIA won’t spend early 2012 carefully discussing why the higher ed bubble didn’t burst in mid-2011 as it predicted, nor will it take the time to explain why Americans—many of whom are net debtors—should be concerned about inflation. Instead it will prophecy even more hyperinflation later. But here’s hoping the National Inflation Association won’t provide me entertainment come January 1, 2013. Such is the curse of a long memory.