One important note on the PISA tests, and other international benchmarks of student learning, is that the United States has never led the globe in student achievement — it has always been about where it is today, sitting around 15th place internationally, yet we have the largest GDP and most productive workforce. This suggests that educational achievement is the only factor in productivity and employment. As Friedman notes, this is partly due to the fact that we once had an economy rich in manufacturing — which required less skill in the workforce. Some believe the preference toward education and skill is overstated though. Harry Holzer and labor economists have shown that there is still, and will continue to be, a significant middle skill job sector in America. What they find is that these middle jobs will require some postsecondary training — in programs that may only be a few weeks or months at venues like community colleges.
Most American workers (about 70 percent currently) do not work in jobs that require a college degree (nor does 70 percent of the population hold the degree). Even as the country becomes more “high tech” and more “new economy” only 40 percent of workers (in the highest of estimates) will need a college degree. The major gap in learning is for workers who will need “some” postsecondary training, but not a degree. Our educational system doesn’t address the educational needs for future non-degree holding workers as well as it does for those continuing to a four year college.
203K jobs is steady (if not grand) improvement in hiring. The Washington Post suggests that this report shows that the government shut down had little effect on the economy and that the Federal Reserve could consider pulling back its bond buying program to support economic recovery. They also suggest that holiday sales will be 3 percent higher than last year – another sign of recovery.
Check out my article at PlannersWeb on jobs for young adults. Titled, “It’s All About Jobs” the article is part of the Across Generations: Young and Old series, which is a year long conversation on planning issues related to young adults and seniors. Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, of the AARP and fellow Across Generations columnist, reacts to the article.
This post is somewhat belated. The 8th Annual Land Policy Conference was held by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, MA in early June, and this year’s topic was Education, Land, and Location.
Eric Hanushek, an educational and urban economist from Stanford, was the keynote speaker where he gave an overview of research that he had conducted for the OECD that identified a economic benefit to the United States of somewhere in the range of $40-50 trillion dollars (in present terms) associated with closing the achievement gap between minority and white students in America.
The rest of the conference was made up of thorough discussions of national and international research on how land policy and education are inter-related. Presenters (and chapters in the upcoming volume) will provide a vast overview on some relatively traditional research topics – including how school quality is capitalized in home values and why people without children in schools still support taxes for education (the answer is that it supports home value and community quality according to William Fischel’s “Home-Voter Hypothesis). The conference papers also covered how newer policies like school choice and residential mobility programs affect individual outcomes in education and the labor market. While there was some disagreement on the topic, choice and mobility might contribute to further inequality – but this could be just a short term effect. There were also great papers on homeschooling, the role of segregation in educational outcomes, and how school choice affects municipal transportation costs.
I was encouraged to see urban economics, urban planning, education policy, and land policy being discussed in nuanced and innovative ways! I learned a lot at the conference and the work of the scholars at the Lincoln Conference has influenced by dissertation.