During the Great Depression of 1929 through 1939, the U.S. suffered an unemployment rate of well over 20% for several years. Not since that time has the unemployment picture in the U.S. been that bad.

However, for over 13 years, from late 2001 through the end of 2014, the U.S. economy struggled through two recessions...one of which we have nick-named the "Great Recession" due to the high unemployment that lingered for several years. Even now, as the economy is recovering and employment is showing signs of improvement, there are many talented people that are still seeking quality jobs and careers.

There have been numerous studies on the challenges of employment for those lacking a high school education, for those in displaced industries, and for those lacking college degrees. And while these situations were all worthy of study, a major demographic that has been overlooked in research is the college-educated professional with several years of work experience that can't get re-employed after being laid off!

Therefore, this study focused on that segment of the U.S. workforce that finds itself experienced, educated and long-term unemployed. The specific research objective was to try and determine the role of continuing education (either professional or academic) in possibly shortening the unemployment period.

Click for key research results.

Continuing Education and the Job Search ...

My name is Dr. C. J. Trayser. I was a Doctoral student at Pepperdine University from 2007-2009 studying the field of Learning Technology. I then spent a few years working on my dissertation.  I would like to share a little insight about my dissertation study.

A few months after the 9/11/2001 event, the business at my firm declined to the point that many in my group were laid off, including me. I had years of experience and a bachelor's degree, so I expected a short job search. But much to my dismay, I found the job search to be a lot lengthier than I expected. After much trial and struggle (and a few short-term consulting jobs), my job search efforts paid off. But many that were in the same situation saw their job searches stretch to a year, two years, three years, or more.

Now, several years later, the unemployment situation still has not fully recovered from the latest recession -- yes, the unemployment numbers are down, but so are the good paying jobs and the number of people in the workforce. I still see many college-educated professionals struggling with extended unemployment. I work with many of these people in a volunteer role to help them find new jobs and careers. During my time with these job seekers, a common question often arises: "Would it help shorten my job search if I returned to school?"

In my job search back in 2002-2003, I found that job searchers with an advanced degree held a definite benefit in my profession, so yes, I returned to school which seemed to result in more interviews. But I could not draw viable conclusions from merely my single experience. To validate if continuing an academic education was truly beneficial to the job search, this question needed to be researched. Thus, my research and dissertation on this topic.

A note about the survey tool. I tested many online survey tools with both weak and strong results. The SoGoSurvey site offered me the right mix of question types, branching capabilities, and reporting. I've tried to design and test the survey to work on most PCs, tablets, and phones using a variety of browsers. The SoGoSurvey site worked well for all my testers with the only comments being that the text was sometimes too large/small for their specific device.