Good news for college students
I've been thinking about the best way to kick things off tomorrow, the first day of school.
One hitch is that the students get younger every year. The ones tomorrow were sitting at their fourth-grade desks, basically unschooled in religious extremism and shoe bombers, when Mohamed Atta and his loony gang of suicidal sycophants crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Somerset County near Shanksville.
That day in fourth grade, peacefully being taught fractions and reading, they had no idea that people like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, popularly known as the Underwear Bomber, were being taught how to allegedly please God while simultaneously delivering a blow to the Great Satan and the Little Satan, the U.S. and Israel, respectively, by detonating explosives in their shorts.
Students in my classes tomorrow weren't even born when President Reagan completed his two terms in the White House, so it's unlikely that they know much about how Reagan turned around an economy in crisis by cutting the top federal tax rate on income from 70 percent to 28 percent, thereby creating 19 million jobs from 1981 through 1989 and cutting the unemployment rate from 7.4 percent to 5.3 percent.
From 1980 to 1988, additionally, inflation dropped from 13.5 percent to 4.1 percent, the prime interest rate dropped from 21.5 percent to 10 percent, and the real (adjusted for inflation) gross domestic product grew by 26 percent.
In any case, I think I'll start on a positive note and tell the students they're in the right place, that a college graduate will earn a million more, on average, than someone with a high school diploma — specifically, $2.3 million versus $1.3 million.
On top of earning more, college graduates “enjoy far more job security than workers with only high school or even associate's degrees,” reported Boston Globe correspondent Jay Fitzgerald, while demand for more educated workers “is only expected to grow in coming years” as companies “increasingly demand brains over brawn.”
In “College Graduates Fare Well in Jobs Market, Even Through Recession,” New York Times economics columnist Catherine Rampell reported that the unemployment rate for college graduates in April 2013 was “a mere 3.9 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for the workforce as a whole, according to the Labor Department.”
Even when the jobless rate for college graduates peaked in this business cycle, in November 2010, “it was still just 5.1 percent,” an unemployment rate “close to the jobless rate the rest of the workforce experiences when the economy is good,” Rampell explained.
Regarding the cost of college as an investment, Rampell pointed to a Brookings Institution study that “estimated that the benefits of a four-year college degree were equivalent to an investment that returns 15.2 percent a year, even after factoring in the earnings students forgo while in school.”
That 15.2 percent return is “more than double the average return to stock market investments since 1950,” stated Brookings, “and more than five times the returns to corporate bonds, gold, long-term government bonds or homeownership.”
Regarding the dismal news, like the $17 trillion federal debt they're inheriting, plus the $2 billion in additional federal red ink per day, I think I'll hold off and stay positive the first day.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Researchers: U.S. lacks proving ground for nuclear energy innovations
- Polamalu could be next in long line of Steelers greats given unceremonial exit
- Experts: Clinton took dangerous path with email system
- Charges held for court in robbery of Elizabeth gas station with machete
- Mon-Yough Laurels & Lances
- Penguins’ Lovejoy embracing defensive pairing with Pouliot
- Over the falls — Cucumber Falls that is — go 3 Kayakers in OhioPyle
- Rossi: Kang would benefit from less attention
- Ships Wheel Tavern owner known for food, beloved for compassion
- Big banks’ levels of capital strong, Federal Reserve finds
- Wolf reverses Corbett, says deal between Highmark, UPMC doesn’t limit continuity of care to very ill