The return on higher education

The return on higher education

There are still a few tickets remaining for Friday’s Invest in Louisiana policy conference at the Water Campus in Baton Rouge. Click here for more information or to buy your tickets if you haven’t already.


The return on higher education
More Americans than ever are earning college degrees – 37% of people aged 25-29 now have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 29% in 2000. But for many of these graduates, the investment in a diploma is not paying off like it did for previous generations. Median wages for college graduates have flatlined in recent decades, while the cost of getting a degree has soared. The Wall Street Journal’s Josh Mitchell explains that a rise of underemployment has accompanied increased degree attainment:

After the tech bust of the early 2000s, the economy demanded less of the type of cognitive skills that college graduates typically have, according to a paper published in the Journal of Labor Economics by economists Paul Beaudry, David A. Green and Benjamin Sand. As a result, college graduates started taking up jobs previously held by those who went only to high school, pushing down wages for high-school graduates. College grads thus maintained an earnings advantage over nongrads, but their real wages didn’t rise.

Research shows that college graduates who start out underemployed – i.e., working in a job that doesn’t require a college degree – have trouble catching up later in life. 


Brain drain at the USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts critical scientific and economic research that tracks things like the effects of climate change on America’s food supply and the effect that international trade wars will have on farmers. But several hundred public servants who do this research could soon be out of their jobs for refusing orders to move from the Washington, D.C. area to Kansas City, where Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wants to relocate these operations. The Washington Post’s Ben Guarino reports that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney calls the move a way to “drain the swamp.” But Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell writes that it’s not ‘the swamp’ that will suffer.

“We do research that’s apolitical, unbiased, comprehensive, good-quality,” an ERS employee told me, under condition of anonymity due to fears of retaliation. “When we’re not there, Congress relies on other sources of information — think tanks and lobbyists, whoever’s got the biggest donor. That’s who they listen to because there’s no authoritative source for them to go to.” In other words, who benefits from draining the fake “swamp”? The real one.


Safeguarding our elections
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin was the first candidate to sign up for re-election last week when the three-day qualifying period opened – a home-field advantage that accrues to the person charged with running Louisiana’s elections. Ashley Shelton of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and Jessica Marsden of Protect Democracy say Ardoin needs to make sure he doesn’t misuse that advantage to help himself or disenfranchise voters:

Secretaries of state are integral players in election administration, which gives them many opportunities to impact the outcome. Even when there is no wrongdoing, the conflict of interest present when a secretary of state oversees his or her own election can be enough to cast doubt in the minds of voters about the fundamental fairness of the process. It is an age-old principle that no one should be the referee in their own game. By making this pledge to voters, Secretary of State Ardoin has the opportunity to safeguard faith in Louisiana’s elections. We hope that he takes it.


Who broke Baltimore? We did
The city of Baltimore has been in the news lately due to the ongoing war of words between President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the congressman who’s leading the investigations into the president’s conduct. While it’s true that Charm City has more than its share of crime and dysfunction, The Nation’s Emily Lieb writes that the city’s ills are rooted in more than a century of municipal, state and federal policies:

It’s true, too, that these arrangements are deliberate. The cities we have are the cities we’ve built: They reflect our choices and embody our values. If they are toxic, it’s because we make them so. And for more than a century now, the chief orderly administering a slow drip of poison into Baltimore’s veins has been the government itself.


Number of the Day
30,346 – Number of words in the section of Louisiana’s constitution that deals with fiscal issues, up from 6,125 when the document was originally ratified in 1974 (Source: Public Affairs Research Council)