Some believe we have "Two Americas" — one that is prosperous and one that is struggling. If this is true, the distinguishing factor between the two Americas is educational attainment.
Going to college is not enough to earn the benefits of college. A recent study by the Federal Reserve showed that, on average, college graduates earn about the same income now that they did in 2000. Those with some college or a high school diploma earn more than 10 percent less on average and those who haven't completed high school have seen average incomes drop nearly 20 percent.
In part, lower incomes are due to increases in part-time employment where individuals work less hours. Another drag on income is the supply of labor. There are plenty of candidates for jobs that don't require a college degree.
According to the Census Bureau, only 29.1 percent of Americans have a college degree. Adding to the supply of potential workers for jobs that don't require a degree could increase the problems faced by the 70 percent of Americans without a degree.
Immigration has always been a part of the American story, but immigrants can only be assimilated into a growing economy. When millions of Americans are already struggling to find decent-paying jobs, adding hundreds of thousands or millions more job seekers only makes the problem worse.
A path to citizenship is an admirable policy goal, but it needs to be enacted only after a path to prosperity for existing citizens is in place.
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