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Unread 02-20-2013, 04:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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B.A. Degree

It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk
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Megan Parker, right, a law firm receptionist, and Laura Burnett, a paralegal, are college graduates, as are all their co-workers.
ATLANTA —The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.

Consider the 45-person law firm of Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh here in Atlanta, a place that has seen tremendous growth in the college-educated population. Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills.

This prerequisite applies to everyone, including the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants and file clerks. Even the office “runner” — the in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and the office — went to a four-year school.

“College graduates are just more career-oriented,” said Adam Slipakoff, the firm’s managing partner. “Going to college means they are making a real commitment to their futures. They’re not just looking for a paycheck.”

Economists have referred to this phenomenon as “degree inflation,” and it has been steadily infiltrating America’s job market. Across industries and geographic areas, many other jobs that didn’t used to require a diploma — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — are increasingly requiring one, according to Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job ads from more than 20,000 online sources, including major job boards and small- to midsize-employer sites.

This up-credentialing is pushing the less educated even further down the food chain, and it helps explain why the unemployment rate for workers with no more than a high school diploma is more than twice that for workers with a bachelor’s degree: 8.1 percent versus 3.7 percent.

Some jobs, like those in supply chain management and logistics, have become more technical, and so require more advanced skills today than they did in the past. But more broadly, because so many people are going to college now, those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable.

Plus, it’s a buyer’s market for employers.

“When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,” said Suzanne Manzagol, executive recruiter at Cardinal Recruiting Group, which does headhunting for administrative positions at Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh and other firms in the Atlanta area.

Of all the metropolitan areas in the United States, Atlanta has had one of the largest inflows of college graduates in the last five years, according to an analysis of census data by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. In 2012, 39 percent of job postings for secretaries and administrative assistants in the Atlanta metro area requested a bachelor’s degree, up from 28 percent in 2007, according to Burning Glass.

“When I started recruiting in ’06, you didn’t need a college degree, but there weren’t that many candidates,” Ms. Manzagol said.

Even if they are not exactly applying the knowledge they gained in their political science, finance and fashion marketing classes, the young graduates employed by Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh say they are grateful for even the rotest of rote office work they have been given.

“It sure beats washing cars,” said Landon Crider, 24, the firm’s soft-spoken runner.

He would know: he spent several years, while at Georgia State and in the months after graduation, scrubbing sedans at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Before joining the law firm, he was turned down for a promotion to rental agent at Enterprise — a position that also required a bachelor’s degree — because the company said he didn’t have enough sales experience.

His college-educated colleagues had similarly limited opportunities, working at Ruby Tuesday or behind a retail counter while waiting for a better job to open up.

“I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now,” said Megan Parker, who earns $37,000 as the firm’s receptionist. She graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2011 with a degree in fashion and retail management, and spent months waiting on “bridezillas” at a couture boutique, among other stores, while churning out office-job applications.

“I will probably never see the end of that bill, but I’m not really thinking about it right now,” she said. “You know, this is a really great place to work.”

The risk with hiring college graduates for jobs they are supremely overqualified for is, of course, that they will leave as soon as they find something better, particularly as the economy improves.

Mr. Slipakoff said his firm had little turnover, though, largely because of its rapid expansion. The company has grown to more than 30 lawyers from five in 2008, plus a support staff of about 15, and promotions have abounded.

“They expect you to grow, and they want you to grow,” said Ashley Atkinson, who graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2009 with a general studies degree. “You’re not stuck here under some glass ceiling.”

Within a year of being hired as a file clerk, around Halloween 2011, Ms. Atkinson was promoted twice to positions in marketing and office management. Mr. Crider, the runner, was given additional work last month, helping with copying and billing claims. He said he was taking the opportunity to learn more about the legal industry, since he plans to apply to law school next year.

The firm’s greatest success story is Laura Burnett, who in less than a year went from being a file clerk to being the firm’s paralegal for the litigation group. The partners were so impressed with her filing wizardry that they figured she could handle it.

“They gave me a raise, too,” said Ms. Burnett, a 2011 graduate of the University of West Georgia.

The typical paralegal position, which has traditionally offered a path to a well-paying job for less educated workers, requires no more than an associate degree, according to the Labor Department’s occupational handbook, but the job is still a step up from filing. Of the three daughters in her family, Ms. Burnett reckons that she has the best job. One sister, a fellow West Georgia graduate, is processing insurance claims; another, who dropped out of college, is one of the many degree-less young people who still cannot find work.

Besides the promotional pipelines it creates, setting a floor of college attainment also creates more office camaraderie, said Mr. Slipakoff, who handles most of the firm’s hiring and is especially partial to his fellow University of Florida graduates. There is a lot of trash-talking of each other’s college football teams, for example. And this year the office’s Christmas tree ornaments were a colorful menagerie of college mascots — Gators, Blue Devils, Yellow Jackets, Wolves, Eagles, Tigers, Panthers — in which just about every staffer’s school was represented.

“You know, if we had someone here with just a G.E.D. or something, I can see how they might feel slighted by the social atmosphere here,” he says. “There really is something sort of cohesive or binding about the fact that all of us went to college.”
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Unread 02-20-2013, 04:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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not suprised at all
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Unread 02-20-2013, 05:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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My work will start requiring teacher's aides to have a BA degree soon. However, if a BA is required, then the pay should go up.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 06:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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My work will start requiring teacher's aides to have a BA degree soon. However, if a BA is required, then the pay should go up.
Absolutely!! Paying off student loans for a $10 an hour job? Sounds like financial suicide. Or they could start making a college education free like in Japan I like that idea
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Unread 02-20-2013, 07:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have a BS which has been rendered "useless" considering my current career. College for me... was more a learning experience than prepping me for a career. I mean I did benefit but not in the sense that it was intended for.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 08:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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It's getting closer, but it is still a long way from reality. Today, only 14% of U.S. students graduate from four year, higher education as of 2012. The requirements may have changed, but the reality of available workers has not.

The solution to this problem is adult education past high school instead of a four year degree, this is what those companies are getting. Industry may want more educated workers, but they are also going to have to pay for them as well with work paid schooling.

Educational Attainment in the United States: 2012 - Detailed Tables - People and Households - U.S. Census Bureau

What is more interesting is that trade workers for construction are much harder to find today. Given this reality, I'd go to trade school before I put money into a four year degree. It was the reverse when I was going to school year ago.

Lack of skilled workers threatens recovery: Manpower | Reuters
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Unread 02-20-2013, 09:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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In my opinion, that's ridiculous. You can't make ends meet with a file clerk career at $10. Even teacher's aide, those requirements are way to high for the job position.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 10:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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In my opinion, that's ridiculous. You can't make ends meet with a file clerk career at $10. Even teacher's aide, those requirements are way to high for the job position.
GD right, Rio... It's BS, all part of the higher-education industrial complex. I have a master's degree and STILL work retail. It doesn't require a GD college degree to file papers or otherwise push them around. A yet another reason why I want to get out of Houston. Americans have lost their asses and don't know where they're going.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 11:29 AM   #9 (permalink)
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One of my classmates went to Gally and got BA, then he went to look for a job as a teacher for the Deaf but he was hired as a dorm supervisor instead. Better than nothing, I guess.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 11:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Road Paver, B.S. degree require, must have healthy back, $7.20/Hr, please contact Randy at 333.213.3554
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Unread 02-20-2013, 11:55 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Road Paver, B.S. degree require, must have healthy back, $7.20/Hr, please contact Randy at 333.213.3554
Lol please tell me u made that up!
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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Lol please tell me u made that up!
He did. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:33 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:33 PM   #14 (permalink)
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In my opinion, that's ridiculous. You can't make ends meet with a file clerk career at $10. Even teacher's aide, those requirements are way to high for the job position.
To be fair, Boston is a lot different than other cities. Here, your statement is 100% true, but other cities' handling of quality of life is not so closely tied to income. The difference is that we pay a very high percentage of income for housing compared to that of cities.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:44 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I think the one problem is the US' direction on capitalism. Since businesses get to decide their standards, getting a 4-year college degree person sounds a lot less riskier than getting a high school diploma person for the job. They basically want to eliminate the people with meager educational attainment.

Another second problem is making education a business than seeing it as a skill. People are inclined to go to college these days in order to get a degree --> so it gets the job they or employers want. The education isn't important as much as the aspects of getting job/money, so it can make education look 'undervalued'.

A lot of the public tends to see if a person is successful by the title/position they have in business (big $/position) compared to the amount of education they received. There are a lot of celebrities who are classic examples, as are other people who got rich with high school degrees or barely any college education, yet have a big fan base or idolized by the public. It brings a focus on "making the bucks" a priority than the education itself.


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It's getting closer, but it is still a long way from reality. Today, only 14% of U.S. students graduate from four year, higher education as of 2012. The requirements may have changed, but the reality of available workers has not.
That number doesn't sound right. Are you sure it is on grad rates, because it is implying that 86% of US students who attempt college, flunk and drop out of undergrad. That means like 1 in 10 students will pass college?

It sounds like there is another condition or something else involved, but I can't put my finger on it.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:46 PM   #16 (permalink)
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He did. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

I believe it will be $9/hr but I don't know when it will be effective. I recently saw the State of the Union on TV regarding that.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:48 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I believe it will be $9/hr but I don't know when it will be effective. I recently saw the State of the Union on TV regarding that.
$8 per hour for CA.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:58 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I believe it will be $9/hr but I don't know when it will be effective. I recently saw the State of the Union on TV regarding that.
Lets hope not. THAT will be a disaster.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 12:59 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The minimum wage is crazy! We've got to get that nonsense abolished. Employers should pay whatever they want to pay. After all it is THEIR business. Good businessmen know that what they pay their employees directly affects their reputation.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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A lot of the public tends to see if a person is successful by the title/position they have in business (big $/position) compared to the amount of education they received. There are a lot of celebrities who are classic examples, as are other people who got rich with high school degrees or barely any college education, yet have a big fan base or idolized by the public. It brings a focus on "making the bucks" a priority than the education itself.
Yeah, especially rappers. They make millions dollars just for rapping. Of course, some of them write music. Unbelievable! They know what young generations want. Most of them just went from ghetto to fame.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:02 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I support minimum wage, based on inflation.

No one are deserved to work at $1 per hour, so having minimum wage is fair and I have no problem about have a separate minimum wage for teenagers (lower than adult minimum wage).
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:05 PM   #22 (permalink)
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$8 per hour for CA.
I don't care because I currently make $25/hr anyway.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:05 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I don't care because I currently make $25/hr anyway.
Yes, you are lucky to have a job at USPS.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:09 PM   #24 (permalink)
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In my opinion, that's ridiculous. You can't make ends meet with a file clerk career at $10. Even teacher's aide, those requirements are way to high for the job position.
Yes, I agree with your opinion about ridiculous to require a bachelor degree for file clerk.

If you use federal loan so you can ask for income based payment.

I think it should reversed if economy is completely recover from downfall and it will be very long time.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:15 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Yes, you are lucky to have a job at USPS.
But you have to understand that USPS clerks who work for more than 15 years make the same wage anywhere in the US. For example, an USPS clerk living in Arizona is richer than me due to its low cost of living, even though we get the same pay.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:23 PM   #26 (permalink)
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i don't care because i currently make $25/hr anyway.
smh..
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:34 PM   #27 (permalink)
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smh..
Shook your head? Why? I make too much money?
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Unread 02-20-2013, 01:40 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Shook your head? Why? I make too much money?
Well, it's not your fault....it's the system.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 02:03 PM   #29 (permalink)
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But you have to understand that USPS clerks who work for more than 15 years make the same wage anywhere in the US. For example, an USPS clerk living in Arizona is richer than me due to its low cost of living, even though we get the same pay.
That's still better than $8 per hour at McDonald's in CA and you should glad that you don't live in NYC - more expensive than LA.

By my philosophies, I believe that every workers are deserved to get a better pay and good benefits, so I'm not against on you to making $25 per hour.

Yup, AZ is cheaper but CA has many awesome interests, especially geographic and climate.
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Unread 02-20-2013, 02:29 PM   #30 (permalink)
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In my opinion, that's ridiculous. You can't make ends meet with a file clerk career at $10. Even teacher's aide, those requirements are way to high for the job position.
a file clerk job position is not intended to be a long term type but more of a starting point for anybody to begin their career. typical life expectancy for a file clerk is probably up to 6-12 months.
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