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Reich: Joining Middle Class Should Not Require 4-Year Degree

By    |   Tuesday, 16 September 2014 08:53 PM

Many believe a four-year college degree is a ticket to a middle-class lifestyle, but former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says there is something wrong with that equation.

"Many of our young people should be able to have other routes to the middle class that are alternatives to a four-year liberal arts degree," Reich told CNBC.

Many Americans who aren't well prepared to succeed at a four-year college would do just fine in a "world-class technical and vocational educational system," said Reich, a public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

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"There are a lot of jobs out there that are technical jobs. These jobs pay quite well, and there is a scarcity of good people to do them."

Community colleges have been adept at training some of these workers, but businesses need to help out too, Reich said.

Meanwhile, a new study by two New York Federal Reserve Bank researchers finds that, while the median college graduate earns 60 to 70 percent more than the average high school graduate, the advantage disappears for the bottom 25 percent of college-educated workers.

"The economic benefits of a bachelor's degree still far outweigh the costs," write Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz. "However, this does not mean that college is a good investment for everyone."

Looking at wages for the lowest quartile of college graduates, "the picture is not so rosy," they note. "In fact, there is almost no difference in the wages for this percentile ranking of college graduates and the median wage for high school graduates."

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Many believe a four-year college degree is a ticket to a middle-class lifestyle, but former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says there is something wrong with that equation.
Reich, four, year, degree
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2014-53-16
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 08:53 PM
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