The Missing Link between The Great Depression and the Great Recession

Prior to the Great Depression in the United States the American education system had a maximum grade achievable of 8.  In The Great Depression this education was increased to 12th grade and high school was created a necessary step to complete your education.

One of the pushes for “furthering our education” was to delay the next generation from entering the labor force. There wasn’t enough work for people already in the labor force much less the room for an influx of new labor. This gave the labor market a 4 year reprieve to allow a more expedient recovery of the unemployment rate. The World War is given the credit for ending the Great Depression but it didn’t do it without this 4 year delay.

Naturally this extension of education was an economic stimulus of sorts to the education system as well. This generated the need for more schools, teachers, etc.

With the fallout of the economy and the rise of the Recession we’re seeing parallel trends. A bachelors degree used to be something to be impressed by when a employer sees it on a resume. Now the government champions college as the best step you can take when you graduate high school. This propaganda has merely stretched the standard of education to slow the tide of the inbound labor force. Its hard to miss the parallels between the Recession and Great Depression.

The degree is becoming a box to be checked when you apply without much more thought given. In a similar but related occurrence is the prevalent trend of young people extending their college experience out beyond a bachelors degree and now opting for dual degree programs or Masters.  If you can’t find a job the next best excuse is to be in school.

Many people have mistaken this as a sound choice. In reality this is just fueling the education bubble.

The only real difference in this mirror is that unlike The Great Depression the next crop of the workforce is also burdened with the cost of this educational extension through high cost student loans.