No oversupply of college/comp-sci degrees, yet

From Freddie’s blog again Yes, Supply and Demand Applies to Computer Science Degrees

Again, because people get very sensitive about this topic, this is about headwinds; it’s about salaries and employment rate on the margins; it’s about a very strong employment market that’s still very strong, just more competitive. And there’s a natural cap on the number of people who can enter the field: it’s hard to code. Not everybody can do it. It takes a certain degree of talent, and most people don’t have it. It’s a cognitively-loaded field in world where not everyone has the same cognitive gifts. (This was the other major reason sending everyone to college is a bad idea that I discussed in the book.) Certainly getting a computer science degree is a high-percentage play when it comes to getting a good job. But tripling the number of people you’re sending out onto the job market each year has consequences. It just does.

It’s not that people get overly sensitive. It’s that he is likely wrong, so readers are pushing back in disagreement. As I wrote earlier, the supply of STEM/comp-sci jobs has kept up with population growth and demand, suggesting no such oversupply.

But the evidence does not bear itself out regarding the oversupply thesis, overall, for any choice of major. The ever-widening college wage premium suggests a market in equilibrium or that favors college grads despite markedly increased college attendance compared to 50+ years ago. Evidently, employers are still deriving enough value from college-educated workers to pay them 2x more on average, annually compared to only high school grads. And the unemployment rate for college grads is only half that of high school grads. Until this trend reverses, we cannot talk about oversupply. Just because there is more of something, does not imply an oversupply (from a macro-economic perspective).

To insist that there is this alleged oversupply of college grads that has negated the advantage of having a college degree, flies in the face of reality and is wishful thinking. Maybe it will happen eventually, but again, no evidence of this, and I see no reason to believe it will happen anytime soon. There is likely a ‘competence cliff’, just like an IQ cliff, between college grads and high school grads to justify paying the former so much more.

So what if not all comp-sci graduates are making mid 6-figures at Google; they still earn way more, on average, compared to high school grads. It’s not like comp-sci grads have more debt compared to other choice of majors. Even humanities majors from no-name colleges earn more than high school grads, even after accounting for student loan debt.

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