Another good post over at In The Pipeline. This one examines claims about people holding advanced degrees needing assistance. Derek Lowe does his normal excellent work and debunks some of the conclusions.
Looking at advanced degrees as a percentage of the population, we have 4.3% in 1970, 7.2% in 1980, 8.8% in 1990, 8.6% in 2000 (a decrease I'm at a loss to explain), and 10.6% in 2009.
I agree with his scepticism. But I also know many PhD chemists that have been out of work for a long time or have been repeatedly out of work over the past two years. None of them have applied for Food Stamps. Granted, they probably wouldn't go around talking about it if they were.
As for those increases in advanced degrees? When there are no jobs for college graduates they tend to go to graduate school. Unfortunately the Bureau of Labor Statistics groups all college degrees together.