College Education Is Best Worker Insurance in Pandemic, Fed Says

A college education is proving more valuable than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, insulating many American workers from the job losses that have ravaged the economy.

Of the 20 million Americans who have lost their job in the virus-induced crisis, many more have been individuals without a college education than those with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to research by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly and economists Shelby Buckman and Lily Seitelman. Jobs for those without college degrees tend be more contact-heavy and less compatible with remote work than the those of graduates.

“Higher levels of education have long been an insulator against labor market disruptions, reducing the incidence of job loss,” the economists wrote in a letter published Monday on the bank’s website. “This was certainly the case in the months following the outbreak of COVID-19.”

The difference in the jobless rate between Americans with a college degree and those without was 2 percentage points at the end of last year. Jobs held by those without a college education are more likely to involve person-to-person contact and therefore have been more susceptible to termination during the pandemic, the economists found.