Publication Date

February 1997


[Excerpt] Demand for college graduates workers was strong during the 1980s (Blackburn, Bloom and Freeman 1989; Katz and Murphy 1990; Kosters 1989; Freeman 1991). The relative wage of college graduate workers rose and college attendance rose in response. Have the demand and technology shocks that produced this result run their course? Is the supply response large enough to stop and/or reverse the 1980s escalation of the relative wages of college graduates?

Read superficially, Bureau of Labor Statistics projections appear to suggest that the answers to these questions are YES. In the latest BLS report, the growing supply of college graduates was projected to outstrip growth of demand by 300,000 annually (Shelley 1996). Even larger gaps between supply and demand were projected in 1992 and 1994 (Shelley 1992, 1994). Looking at these projections, some in the press have reported that the college graduate labor market is about to go bust. New York Times reporter, Louis Uchitelle, for example, led off an article titled "Surplus of College Graduates Dims Job Outlook for Others" with the following:


Suggested Citation
Bishop, J. H. (1997). Is an oversupply of college graduates coming? (CAHRS Working Paper #97-04). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.