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PhD's On Welfare

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#1 WorkingPoor


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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:42 AM

The Great Recession and the very slow pace of subsequent recovery has sky-rocketed the unemployment, as well as people on welfare and food stamps.

A record high of 15% or 46.37 million Americans are on food stamps in June last year -- that's almost one in every seven Americans. That number is not expected to come down much without a significant improvement in the unemployment picture.

Even worse, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education,

The number of people with graduate degrees — master's degrees and doctorates — who have had to apply for food stamps, unemployment or other assistance more than tripled between 2007 and 2010. Of the 22 million Americans with master's degrees or higher in 2010, about 360,000 were receiving some kind of public assistance, according to the latest Current Population Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau in March 2011.

So holding a PhD does not automatically walk you into even a decent paying job any more.

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#2 JonLaw


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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:23 AM

So holding a PhD does not automatically walk you into even a decent paying job any more.

I don't think that it ever did that in the first place.
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#3 zephyrprime


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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:44 PM

I don't think that it ever did that in the first place.

It did back in the old days. Just remember that back in 1950, only about 5% of the population even went to college.

It's all about supply and demand. If everyone has a phd, then janitors will be paid 10x what researchers and college professors make.

#4 shooter


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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:57 PM

Supply and demand is not reflected very quickly at all in the educational (both college, and vocational) system.

A good example is industrial electricians. There are lots of electricians who know residential single phase...but try to find one who knows plant level low and medium voltage 3 phase. I am not talking just wire pullers...but real tecnicians who know and understand systems. There are not that many. I recently was on a job site doing a start up...and the elctrician had a masters degree is some arts craftsy area...and eventually bailed on that whole career. He initially was going to try and find an electrical engineering program to enroll in...with the intention of specifically focusing on industrial and infrastructure type electrical engineering. He literally could find no EE programs. All the EE programs are focused electonics (integrated circuits, etc.) There is almost no curriculum for electrical utility systems level engineering. As such...he bailed on going the engineering route...and just became an electrician. He never lacks for work.

As fossil fuels get more expensive...and more energy expenditure occurs through the electrical system, I woudl bet that the lack of people who understand utilize level and industrial electrical systemst is only going to get worse.

#5 CharlesInVermont


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Posted 11 January 2013 - 11:35 AM

No, its more than that. Universities set up graduate education as a form of endentured survitude. You slave for 5 years, get a degree, and move on. It worked fine until (1) the jobs filled up, and (2) productivity demands required ever more slaves. These days the modern well funded molecular biology lab is a paper production factory that uses graduate students and postdocs as line production workers. Only one in ten can ever hope to rise to the level of being the head of a lab. The other 9 out of 10 are consigned to some lower ranking. Some will spend their lives as postdocs, but even that pipeline is filling up, and it is at most a 10 year career. After that granting agencies will not fund you. Some will become teachers at colleges or high schools. The reality is, though that a good chunk of them will not get a job in the area of their education. I see it only getting worse. We have done everything possible to get as many people as possible higher degrees, our population is aging, thus the need for educators will be flat or worse, and the grant funding can be expected to be flat to down from here.

And -- If you really want to see depressing wait until NIH cuts funding, and all of the med school research professors on soft money with tenure fail to get grants. I have no idea what the med schools will do when that happens. They are contractually obligated to pay some portion of their salary, but there is no money in the budget for that.

#6 Pulp_Cutter


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Posted 11 January 2013 - 11:53 AM

Zero sympathy, at least for high-tech PhDs. Innovation is exploding all over. You do need to exercise some initiative, and get your fingers dirty, but there is more opportunity now than at any time in history. Concentrate on doing something useful.

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