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Bethany Lewis

Brian Holzman, Jeehee Han, Kalena E. Cortes, Bethany Lewis, Irina Chukhray.

This study investigates the role of college major choices in labor market outcomes, with a focus on racial minorities and immigrants. Drawing upon research on school-to-work linkages, we examine two measures, linkage, the connection between college majors and specific occupations in the labor market, and match, the alignment of workers’ occupations with their college majors. Analyzing data from the American Community Survey, 2013-2017, we show that linkage positively predicts earnings, particularly for workers in matched occupations, and negatively predicts unemployment. Notably, Black, Hispanic, and foreign-born workers in matched occupations benefit more from linkage strength than their White and U.S.-born counterparts. This advantage is more pronounced in states that are popular destinations for immigrants. Our findings suggest that earnings and unemployment disparities experienced among racial minorities and immigrants may diminish if they pursue majors closely tied to jobs in the labor market and secure jobs related to their college majors.

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