We recently featured a piece about out of work scholars finding life after academia. Now Nathan Harden of The College Fix highlights a related report.

New Trend: PhD Grads on Welfare

Yesterday I came across an article, posted online by a former classmate of mine who is now in grad school, all about a new trend among young people–call it PhD’s on welfare.

Published as a meaty and mournful piece in the Chronicle for Higher Education, the article highlights the plight of countless highly educated young adults who go out into the real world and found that a P-H-D. does not always translate into a J-O-B.

“I am not a welfare queen,” says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.

That’s how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid…

“I find it horrifying that someone who stands in front of college classes and teaches is on welfare,” she says…

Horrifying, yes, probably even more so when you consider the amount of debt she likely took on in order to earn her degrees, not to mention the years of lost income she forfeited by choosing to be in school for eight to ten years on her way to the welfare line.

And just how many folks with graduate degrees are currently living off government assistance? The Chronicle article throws out some remarkable statistics:

The percentage of graduate-degree holders who receive food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.During that three-year period, the number of people with master’s degrees who received food stamps and other aid climbed from 101,682 to 293,029, and the number of people with Ph.D.’s who received assistance rose from 9,776 to 33,655, according to tabulations of microdata done by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. He drew on figures from the 2008 and 2011 Current Population Surveys done by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor…

In other words, from 2007 to 2010 the number of PhD’s on welfare more than tripled. Meanwhile, the number of people with master’s degrees on public assistance increase just shy of three-fold. So the rate of increase for grads on welfare actually was higher for PhD’s than it was for master’s degrees. More education obviously doesn’t mean more job security.