June 30, 2011

Jefferson City - Two new national studies verify the value of a college degree for American workers.

The Undereducated American from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce says the U.S. has fallen behind in the production of college-educated workers. The authors write, "The data are clear. The demand for college-educated workers is growing much faster than the supply. In recession and recovery, we remain fixated on the high school jobs that are lost and not coming back. We are hurtling into a future dominated by college-level jobs, unprepared."

The study notes that 20 million more workers with postsecondary education will be needed by 2025. Even workers in occupations that don't require college degrees benefit economically from having them. A college education prepares them to do higher level work, get jobs with better wages and benefits, and open their own businesses, according to the study.

The Brookings Institution compared returns on investments in college and the stock market in the study, Where is the Best Place to Invest $102,000 -- In Stocks, Bonds, or a College Degree?

The study notes, " The $102,000 investment in a four-year college yields a rate of return of 15.2 percent per year-more than double the average return over the last 60 years experienced in the stock market (6.8 percent), and more than five times the return to investments in corporate bonds (2.9 percent), gold (2.3 percent), long-term government bonds (2.2 percent), or housing (0.4 percent)." 

 Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell says the findings in these two studies align with the state's goal of increasing degree attainment to 60 percent of the adult population by 2025, up from 39 percent today.

"We know from history and from studies such as these that postsecondary education provides enormous economic benefits to individuals and their communities," Russell says. "We need to graduate 4,000 more students each year if we are to meet our state's future for workforce needs. To do this will take commitment from families, Missouri's education system, business leaders and elected officials."