Education and the Economy

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This one was forwarded to me by a colleague at Fresno Pacific, and I think deserves a comment.  On June 6 The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124424363293190441.html) posted an article entitled “The Less Educated Take the Worst Hit.”  The gist of the story was that those with less education have been hardest hit in this recesssion, more so than in previous recessions like 1990/91 and 2001.  Those with higher education more often have skills that are transferable to other work, or know how to start their own business.  The unemployment rates are illustrative:  without a highschool diploma, 15.5%; graduated from high school, 10%; four year college degree, 4.8%.  This pattern (without the extremes) is also evident in non-recessionary times. 

So what can we learn from this, as the professors say?  Finish college!  And much more.  Education is one of the surest ways to economic success and stability.  In past recessionary times, colleges and universities saw a jump in enrollment.  People needed to re-tool, jobs were more scarce than in previous years. And so it seemed wise to start or finish that degree that they had dreamed of. 

If it was a good investment then, it still is now.  One of the most disheartening events of this recession is the number of students seemingly holding off on their education when it is one of the single things that will help them to be more employable in the future.  It may in fact be one of the best uses of time right now. 

If there is one other thing that is certain–beyond the marketable value of an education–it is that education stimulates the desire to learn, to know and to understand.  It appears that we will continue to experience change and to prepare for that we need not only to know, but to know how to learn.  There is no better way to develop the habit of learning than to immerse oneself in learning.  It may be those who are learning now who find ways to rise out of  our current decline.  And they will be the ones ready to go when the economy begins to boom again.

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