Going to college is worth it, new study says


A new study provides a dramatic answer to the question nagging potential college students: Is college worth it?

The short answer, according to a study released Thursday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, is yes.

For the first time in U.S. history, people with college degrees make up a larger portion of the workforce than those with high school degrees, the report found. And the recovery from the Great Recession has barely made a dent in bringing back the jobs people with high school diplomas used to count on for decent pay and benefits.

Although the economy has created 11.6 million new jobs since the recession, 11.5 million have gone to workers with at least some education beyond high school, said Anthony Carnevale, director of the center and author of the study done with Tamara Jayasundera and Artem Gullish.

In addition, workers with some postsecondary education have captured the vast majority of the good jobs, the researchers said. They define "good" jobs as those that are full time, pay more than $53,000 a year and provide benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.

Workers with a bachelor’s degree, or higher, now make up 36 percent of the workforce. The workers with high school diplomas are less than 34 percent of the workforce. That’s down 5 percentage points from 2007, when the economy began to crash.

Of the 7.2 million jobs lost in the recession, about 5.6 million of the jobs that vanished had been held by people with high school diplomas or less. And they have recovered only 1 percent of those jobs over the past six years, the researchers note. Only 80,000 jobs held by workers with high school diplomas or less have been added since the recession.

There has been "no growth of well-paying jobs with benefits" for the group that didn’t go beyond high school, Carnevale said. The result has been an increasingly divided country, with "college haves and college have-nots," he noted. The people with college degrees have incomes that have averaged 80 percent more than high school graduates over a lifetime.

The nation still is feeling the hangover from the recession. The economy still is missing 6 million jobs that would have been created if the recession hadn’t occurred, he said, and construction employment is still 1.6 million jobs short of its 2007 level, while manufacturing has 1 million fewer jobs. Construction and manufacturing in the past have provided some of the best jobs for workers at lower education levels.

But Carnevale does not see the current job and income divide as a short-term issue resulting from the rough years set in motion by the recession. While the recession sped up job losses in industries such as manufacturing, Carnevale has traced the erosion of opportunity for people without college degrees to the 1980s.

Many jobs require more elaborate skills than they once did. For example, he said a person with a high school degree used to make a fine auto mechanic if he had good mechanical skills. Now, computers are key to operating cars, so mechanics need electronic skills as well. The same applies to the factory floor.

The growth in jobs now is in health care, consulting, business, education, government and financial services. Those industries accounted for 28 percent of the workforce in 1947, and now account for 46 percent, the researchers noted.

Yet, old-style service jobs such as clerical work have been cut sharply because computers now make it possible for managers to do their own typing and take on responsibilities once done by clerical staff.

Amid a sharp slowdown in hiring of graduating college students after the Great Recession, there were numerous stories in the media that asked if college was worth it. Then, unemployment among new college graduates was near 10 percent, and more recently was about 5 percent, Carnevale said.

But as the questions were asked, Carnevale said critics of college did not seem to realize that people with high school diplomas or less had unemployment rates about 22 percent. Also workers who had graduated from college lost about $5,000 a year in wages compared to $6,000 for those with no college.

Now, Carnevale said, income data make it clear that "if you don’t go to college, you will do a lot worse." But while true on average, people evaluating future education need to see choices as more complex than simply going to college or not going to college.

Beyond going to college, the choice of majors and careers is also critical to outcomes, he said.

People who major in the humanities, early childhood education or psychology have a 30 to 40 percent chance of not making any more than high school graduates, he said.

Yet, if college graduates in the humanities get a master’s degree, they raise their pay. Meanwhile, engineers do better with bachelor’s degrees than master’s degrees. Thirty percent of people with two-year associate degrees make more than college graduates, and those with certificates in heating and ventilation and computers do especially well.

The study notes that the number of jobs for workers with an associate degree or some college has increased by 47 percent since 1989, to 43.5 million from 30 million. Meanwhile, jobs for people with bachelor’s degrees or higher has doubled, to 54.2 million from 26 million.

Yet, jobs for workers with high school diplomas or less declined by 13 percent over the same period, with a loss of 7.3 million jobs.


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June 30, 2016 at 09:11AM

Going to college is worth it, new study says

Possible hike in UI insurance costs a ‘gut punch’


URBANA — University of Illinois employees are being warned about a dark cloud looming over their health insurance benefits. Changes in coverage …

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June 30, 2016 at 01:18AM

Possible hike in UI insurance costs a ‘gut punch’

For Former Northeastern Professor, Staying In Illinois Was ‘Too Big Of A Gamble’


Illinois has now gone a full year without a comprehensive state budget.

Throughout that year, we’ve been telling the stories of people Caught in the Middle of the state budget impasse as some programs are forced to cut back- or end altogether.

Now, as the state hits this grim milestone, we’re checking in with some of the people we met.

In March, Northeastern Illinois University announced faculty and staff would be required to take one day off a week, and lose 20 percent of their pay.

We met theater professor Angela Sweigart-Gallagher a few days before that announcement.

Here’s what she had to say then, when the reductions were still just rumors: 

“I will not be able to pay my mortgage at a 20 percent reduction of my pay. We’re going to start looking for an out, looking for another job, moving out of the state.”

We caught back up with Sweigart-Gallagher, while she was on vacation in Vermont.

Last we talked you were thinking about leaving Illinois. What did you decide to do?

We are, in fact, leaving Illinois. I’ve accepted a job at another university–St. Lawrence University in Canton New York– so my husband, myself and my daughter will all be relocating in about a month. 

Northeastern’s furlough days were suspended in April, but school administration warned they could come back in July without a full state budget. Did that uncertainty play any role in your decision to leave?

Not just the uncertainty of what was going to happen with my paycheck, but the uncertainty in the entire state. The drumbeat from every state university was layoffs, so when I received an offer from another university, a major part of the decision became: does Illinois seem stable? And it just didn’t. 

I mean, two out of the three of us–of my family–would have been negatively impacted by the lack of a state budget. Me, because I’m an employee of a state university, and my daughter because she would be attending CPS for the first year. And that seemed too big of a gamble.

You were about to receive tenure at Northeastern while you were looking at the job you ultimately accepted. Was that hard to give up?

It is tough and I’m sure that there were many academics wondering why I would give up a tenure track position, which sort of seems like a step backwards in some regards. But tenure just didn’t seem like a sure thing. It didn’t really seem like the protections it typically would be.

Was it a hard decision to make emotionally?

I was sitting in a faculty meeting when they made the announcement that we would be going on furlough so I was thinking … ‘OK, well I’ve just received an offer from another school, I’m about to get tenure here, now they’re announcing furloughs, there’s no way that they’re going to make a counteroffer that could really offset the risk of staying in this current climate.’

And I’m not embarrassed to say that I started crying in the middle of the meeting thinking ‘Well, they’ve taken what should have been a very hard decision and they’ve made it quite easy.’ So, congratulations Governor Rauner. Mission accomplished. One less public sector employee in Illinois.

How do you think this year’s cuts and the continuing uncertainty will affect your former colleagues going forward?

I think there are a lot of people who initially thought ‘Well why would you leave?’ and now they’re also going to be going on the job market. 

In fact, in a budget meeting with the provost and the president they included the idea of non-retention of faculty as one of their cost saving measures. So I think they were counting, frankly, on a couple of people leaving in order to make it through the budget impasse.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Illinois hasn’t had a budget since July 1, 2015. Listen to our collection of stories about the people Caught in the Middle of the impasse.

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June 30, 2016 at 01:16AM

For Former Northeastern Professor, Staying In Illinois Was ‘Too Big Of A Gamble’

Steve Cochran Full Show 06.29.16: Hump Day with Pig Candy


Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago

Steve Cochran Full Show 06.29.16: Hump Day with Pig Candy

Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago

Today’s show included tamales and pig candy (sure Steve was upset he had the day off)! We can’t wait for the Taste of Chicago! Attorney General Lisa Madigan talked Volkswagen, Coach Fitz celebrates the life of Coach Walker, and Dash Mihok got us excited for season 4 of Ray Donovan.


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June 29, 2016 at 04:49AM

Steve Cochran Full Show 06.29.16: Hump Day with Pig Candy

Amid bitter partisanship, Southern Illinois leaders plead for compromise in Springfield

MARION — A war of words erupted in Marion on Monday between a Republican House candidate taking a “Fire Madigan” pledge and his supporters, and a group of people who came out to protest the event with a message of their own: “Fire Rauner.” 

The protesters – about a dozen of them – held their “Fire Rauner” signs to the window of Dave Severin’s campaign office, where inside the Republican from Benton challenging Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, read prepared remarks about what he deemed the “defining issue in this campaign.”

Severin was flanked by a handful of supporters at the news conference, which was attended by one reporter, as he announced, “I pledge to fire Mike Madigan.”


"Fire Madigan"

Republican House candidate Dave Severin takes a pledge to "Fire Madigan" — as in House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, at a press conference in Marion on Tuesday. Severin is challenging state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion. 


He then went on to say that “Bradley’s loyalty to Mike Madigan has dire consequences” for the people of Southern Illinois, and closed his prepared remarks by signing a giant pledge card sealing his decision not to cast a vote for Madigan as speaker should he be elected to the House this November – not that Madigan would have been counting on his vote anyway.

Pressed on who Bradley and other downstate Democrats should support for Speaker when the 100th General Assembly is seated in January, Severin offered up zero alternatives.  

The whole ordeal — including a heated exchange between a Severin supporter and a “Fire Rauner” protester stationed outside, with both trying to talk over one another, and neither even attempting to acknowledge the other’s point of view — seemed to mimic the events playing out in Springfield that have led to a protracted budget stalemate.

It was if a mini-Capitol had sprouted in an otherwise ordinary Marion parking lot strip mall housing offices, a tattoo parlor and Mexican restaurant. 

That’s even more so because the sharp political exchange that began at noon was sandwiched between two other events — of social service providers in the morning, and higher education leaders in the afternoon — where local leaders discussed the devastating effects the budget impasse is having on the region, economically and socially. 

As the days march toward Friday’s start of another fiscal year with a budget tangled up in bitter partisanship and politics rooted in demagoguery, social programs for the poor, sick and disabled are contracting, and the future is uncertain for economic and educational drivers such as SIU and John A. Logan College.

At a gathering of social services providers on Tuesday morning, William Mills, who works at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in Anna and is chairman of the Illinois Nurses Association board, said the situation is growing so dire that, soon, when emergency rooms call needing help placing someone who is suffering from acute mental illness in a facility for care, “I’m gonna have to tell you that there’s not a bed.”


Social services symposium

Social service providers attend a symposium at John A. Logan in Carterville on Tuesday morning hosted by Family Counseling, based in Vienna.


Nurses across the state are troubled by the inability of lawmakers to reach a compromise given that the effect is the continued erosion of essential human services that are the primary safety net for communities across the state, he said.

Mills made his comments at the top of the Southern Illinois Human Services Symposium held Tuesday at John A. Logan hosted by Family Counseling in Vienna, and several others echoed his concerns during introductions. “Pretty terrifying,” another attendee said of the continued cuts. 

Lawmakers return to Springfield Wednesday. They are expected to begin working on several Band-Aid budgets for K-12 schools and higher education, social services, road construction and a few other items deemed essential. But political leaders say it’s unlikely there will be a full budget deal anytime soon, and it’s yet to be seen what sort of stopgap budgets will emerge – if any. The new fiscal year begins Friday.

“I think with Mr. Rauner and Mr. Madigan, yes, I think you’ve got to put them both in the same boat,” Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said on Tuesday, in an interview outside the social services symposium. “I think they’re fighting each other and they’re playing politics … The bottom line is you’re making everybody else suffer.”

Forby said it’s not ideal, but he intends to vote for the stopgap measures proposed by the Democratic leadership in his chamber, saying that, at the least, lawmakers have to find a way for schools to open on time in the fall and operate through the school year.

Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said he doesn’t think anything substantive will happen until after July 4th. But, he said, rapidly snapping his fingers, “What’s going on in Springfield changes every single minute.”


University presidents push for funding

University presidents push for release of a higher education budget at a press conference in Springfield on Tuesday. SIU President Randy Dunn is pictured second from the right. 


SIU President Randy Dunn, who spent Tuesday in Springfield lobbying for a release of funds – at least enough to carry the university through January – said these next few days are “critical times” as far as the future of higher education in Illinois is concerned. Dunn was among public and private university leaders who participated in a press conference in Springfield, pleading with lawmakers and the governor to take action – now.

But the divisiveness in Springfield is making action an uncertainty – and that same divisiveness was what was on display in Marion at the press conference and accompanying protest.

Ty Petersen, a staff representative with the AFSCME Council 31 union, said Severin is wrong to portray Madigan as “being the problem here.” “All the governor has to do is compromise a little bit,” he said.

At that, James Patrick, of Crainville, who came out to support Severin as he took the “Fire Madigan” pledge, countered that this whole budget ordeal could be settled if the Democrats would propose a responsible, balanced budget that their Republican House and Senate colleagues also could support – and then Rauner’s position wouldn’t matter.

One protester said it’s impossible to get Republican support, and Patrick countered that’s because the last budget House Democrats pushed was $7 billion in the red. “That’s just your numbers,” someone shouted. Daniel Johnson, a member of the Local Laborers 773, then questioned why, if Rauner was so concerned about the budget, he gave his wife a salary and a staff. “Rauner is the worst thing that ever happened to this state,” he said.

Holding a large sign bearing John Bradley’s name over his head, at one point during this ordeal, another protester said, with gusto, “We’re here for John. John Bradley and Mike Madigan. Whoooo!”

As the back-and-forth continued, primarily between Patrick and Johnson – both wearing camouflage hats, but apparently worlds apart on their views – another protester suggested they shouldn’t lose their cool over someone who is “misinformed.” Everyone went their separate ways.

As for Bradley’s part, he declined to comment on Severin’s pledge, or request that he make the same one. Through a spokesman, Bradley relayed that he doesn’t “want to get into anything that distracts him from focusing on the budget talks right now.” Bradley also did not return a call seeking comment related to budget talks.

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June 28, 2016 at 02:17PM

Amid bitter partisanship, Southern Illinois leaders plead for compromise in Springfield

Education Desk: College Prezzes Describe ‘Horrible, Perilous’ Situation

About a dozen college and university officials gathered at the capitol today to remind lawmakers of the desperate situation schools find themselves in. Most have gone for a year with less than a third of expected state funds. The coalition included presidents of institutions as enormous as the University of Illinois System and as small as the private liberal arts school Illinois College in Jacksonville, whose president warned that state funds need to come quickly.

Hear here.

"This is a horrible, perilous situation for both privates and publics, because we can go some of us for a little bit of time, but my message to the legislators and the governor is: Don’t take us for granted."

Barbara Farley went on to say schools still need the money owed by the state for the soon to expire fiscal year plus a budget for the new year, which begins on Friday.  

For the past year, Illinois colleges and universities have gone without state funds, save for a stopgap measure approved a few months ago just as Chicago State University was threatening to close. But that amount was a fraction of what the state owed schools.

John Avendano, president of Kankakee Community College, described it this way:

"It resulted in 13 percent of our typical funding from the state. Normally $7 million; we received $915,000. That’s like going through a desert, starving, thirsty for water, and just getting sprayed with mist, and just saying you should be happy you got that."

Lawmakers will return to the statehouse tomorrow to consider several stop-gap funding proposals. Gov. Bruce Rauner favors a plan that would give higher education institutions a total of $1 billion to keep them open through the fall.​

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June 28, 2016 at 01:57PM

Education Desk: College Prezzes Describe ‘Horrible, Perilous’ Situation

Funding stability needed for higher education, Illinois leaders say

SPRINGFIELD — The presidents of three Illinois state universities say their schools likely will be able to continue through the fall semester without drastic changes regardless of whether lawmakers approve more funding before the new budget year begins Friday.

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz, Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn and Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman joined several higher education colleagues Tuesday at a Statehouse news conference to urge the Democratic-controlled General Assembly and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to approve more funding for universities, community colleges and the Monetary Award Program, which provides grants to low-income students.

Amid the budget impasse between Rauner and legislative Democrats, higher education went nearly a year without receiving any state funding before the governor signed off on a $600 million plan that provided 31 percent funding for most universities and 60 percent for Chicago State University, which was on the verge of closure.

"What we really need is a budget for (fiscal year) ’16 (and) a budget for (fiscal year) ’17 that restores the faith and confidence of the people of Illinois who are sending their sons and daughters to us for a good education," Dietz said.

There appears to be agreement between the Rauner administration and Senate Democrats on spending an additional $1 billion on universities, community colleges and MAP grants. Republicans have included the plan as part of a larger bill to fund some state operations through the end of December, while Democrats have introduced it as a stand-alone bill.

The plan’s prospects in the House remain uncertain.

Dietz, Dunn and Glassman all said their schools should be able to make it through the fall without drastic cuts with or without the deal.

"We’ll get through the summer, and we’ll get into our tuition revenue that takes place in the fall, and we anticipate that there would not be any further layoffs," said Eastern Illinois’ Glassman, who has laid off hundreds of employees in the past year. "However, it’s all predicated on how enrollment looks in the fall. It’s hard to predict."

Southern Illinois’ Dunn said some reductions may be needed to be made at the Carbondale campus either way, but they won’t affect programs or course offerings.

But the university leaders said the larger issue is the damage being done to the long-term stability of higher education in Illinois.

"We’ve been through a year of this," Dunn said. "There is no institution that’s positioned to be able to pull this off for yet another year."

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June 28, 2016 at 12:56PM

Funding stability needed for higher education, Illinois leaders say