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IU study: Health majors have best shot at jobs

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An Indiana University study has found that what people studied in college had a direct effect on their chances of employment during the Great Recession.

People with degrees in health, education and biology/life sciences had the best chance of getting and holding a job from 2009 to 2010, according to the recent study by the Indiana Business Research Center at IU's at Kelley School of Business. Only one out of every 44 graduates in those fields found themselves unemployed, according to the data.

However, the odds of employment were against those with degrees related to architecture, industrial arts, consumer service and engineering. One of every 13 graduates in those fields experienced some period of unemployment from 2009 to 2010.

The study used data from the Indiana Workforce Intelligence System to examine the employment history of 178,000 people living in Indiana who graduated from state public colleges and universities.

People with health-related majors stood the best chance of landing a job after graduation, regardless of degree level, The Herald-Times reported.

Timothy Slaper, director of economic analysis for the IU Business Research Center and a co-author of the study, said the results were fairly consistent with a similar study last year by Georgetown University.

"The more advanced the degree, the greater the chance of short-term unemployment," the IU researchers wrote. "Compared to other levels of degree attainment, sub-baccalaureate graduates had wider ranges of unemployment probability," the study added.

But industrial arts and engineering graduates often found their time without work could be relatively brief.

"What was most interesting to me was that, while those who were in engineering had a relatively high unemployment rate, in comparison to others, they also tended to find another job more quickly," Slaper said.

However, architects had both high and prolonged unemployment, which The Herald-Times said was likely related to a decline in new construction during the recession. Slaper said those jobs will likely resurface as the economy recovers.

Slaper said the study showed the importance of watching for trends in employment as the economy evolves.

"You look at the aging baby boomers and the need for more health care, you look at the Affordable Care Act and more people getting primary health care services, and that bodes well for the health care disciplines," he said.

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