Monday, August 15, 2011

America’s Undereducated Workforce: A New Study

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently published a study, The Undereducated American. The study found that over the past 30 years, the demand for college-educated workers outpaced supply; resulting in economic output below potential and growing income inequality. Additionally, the report states that the recession and grudging recovery has hidden the fact that we are under-producing college graduates. The report goes on to state that for the United States to make up for lost ground in postsecondary attainment and respond to future economic requirements, we will need to add an additional 20 million postsecondary-educated workers to the economy by 2025, including: 15 million new Bachelor’s degree holders,4 million workers with non-degree postsecondary credentials, and 1 million Associate’s degree holders.

If we do not address the problem of under-producing college graduates, the report finds, income inequality will only get worse (the disparity between the wages of college-educated workers and high school-educated workers will jump from 74% to 96%). However, if we add 20 million postsecondary-educated workers, wages for all groups will rise -- wages for those with a high school diploma will rise 24%, wages for those with an Associate's degree will rise by 15%, and wages for Bachelor's-educated workers will rise by 6%.

Adding 20 million college-educated workers would mean that the United States would reach the President's goal of being number one in the world in degree attainment among the workforce. By 2025, 60% of American youth would have an Associate's or a Bachelor's degree, making the United States first in terms of degree attainment world-wide.

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