Students in Distress

Student loan debt ballooned during the Great Recession, and student loan default rates have nearly doubled since 2007. One leading explanation for the rising default rates has been the growth of “non-traditional” borrowers attending community colleges and for-profit institutions. The tendency of these borrowers to be older, from less-wealthy families, complete programs at lower rates, and have weaker labor market outcomes (employment and earnings) all contribute to higher default rates.

What Does Your Degree Do For You?

If your accounting degree landed you a job as a financial analyst in the Richmond metro area, Virginia, do you know what that gets you? Well, for starters, your entry-level wages are somewhere around $55,000 per year. The average worker earns $83,000 per year and experienced workers earn $111,000 per year. About 45% of all accountants in the Richmond metro area have a bachelor’s degree while 38% have their masters.

What to do and where to live? Intersecting education, earnings, purchasing power, and return on investment: Part I

Few would debate that there will be an abundance of attractive employment opportunities in health-related industries for the foreseeable future. Chmura Economics & Analytics forecasts an average annual employment growth rate of 1.9% through 2026 for the healthcare and social assistance sector, which is more than three times the average annual growth rate of all industries (0.6%) in the nation. The ambulatory healthcare services industry alone is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 3.1%!

Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Tends to Overstate Education Return on Investment (ROI)

With dwindling government appropriations for higher education and elevated student loan default rates, more colleges and universities are conducting Return on Investment (ROI) analysis to demonstrate that higher education is a sound investment for students, taxpayers, and society at large. Those institutions include for-profit colleges, community colleges, and public and private not-for-profit four-year colleges.

May is Graduation Month

Employment is brighter for some graduating students than for others, depending on the degree earned. Registered nurses (RNs) top the list for most in demand in the nation over the next decade with an expected 1,110,841 openings. About 60% of the job openings are expected because RNs are either retiring or changing occupations (called replacement demand in the table). A bachelor’s degree is typically required to be an RN and it pays an entry wage of around $48,500. According to the latest data (fourth quarter of 2015), there are 2.9 million employed RNs in the nation. The annual average wage for all RNs is $69,800.

Other occupations in high demand over the next decade include general and operations managers, accountants and auditors, and computer systems analysts.

Top 10 Occupations in the Nation with Most Openings that Typically Require a Bachelor's Degree, 2015-2025
Four Quarters Ending with 2015q4 Over the Next 10 Years
OccupationEmployment Avg. Annual Wages(1) Total Replacement Demand Total Growth Demand Total Openings Entry-Level Wages(1)
Registered Nurses 2,855,420 $69,800 674,656 436,185 1,110,841 $48,500
General and Operations Managers 2,153,362 $117,200 578,853 160,090 738,943 $51,900
Managers, All Other 956,533 $110,200 581,923 69,310 651,233 $61,100
Accountants and Auditors 1,329,500 $73,700 395,893 157,410 553,303 $43,900
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 1,304,861 $56,800 278,301 68,513 346,814 $38,200
Software Developers, Applications 761,466 $99,500 128,545 156,726 285,271 $61,700
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 915,675 $59,300 218,530 48,529 267,059 $39,700
Management Analysts 737,144 $90,900 136,669 108,926 245,595 $49,800
Computer Systems Analysts 572,220 $87,300 82,653 125,941 208,594 $54,900
Financial Managers 548,319 $130,200 141,656 39,332 180,988 $68,600
1. Occupation wages are as of 2014.
Source: JobsEQ

Preschool teachers top the list of in-demand occupations for jobs that typically require an associate’s degree. Openings in the nation are expected to total 151,181 over the next decade with entry-level wages of $20,000.

Entry-level wages for some jobs that require an associate’s degree pay better than those requiring a bachelor’s degree.  For example, the entry-level wage for the average dental hygienist in the nation is $52,600 and the education required is an associate’s degree compared to a registered nurse requiring a bachelor’s degree who has an entry wage of $48,500.

When determining a major for post-secondary degrees, the forecasted number of openings and entry-level wages is important to both the employer and the new hires coming out of the education pipeline.

Top 10 Occupations in the Nation with Most Openings that Typically Require an Associate's Degree, 2015-2025
Four Quarters Ending with 2015q4Over the Next 10 Years
OccupationEmployment Avg. Annual Wages(1) Total Replace-ment Demand Total Growth Demand Total Openings Entry-Level Wages(1)
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 427,081 $32,000 121,808 29,373 151,181 $20,000
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 268,735 $51,800 58,260 21,671 79,931 $32,500
Web Developers 154,910 $68,700 28,230 44,016 72,246 $37,500
Dental Hygienists 202,937 $72,000 32,322 37,769 70,091 $52,600
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians 169,257 $40,800 38,609 29,661 68,270 $27,200
Physical Therapist Assistants 81,908 $54,300 26,249 33,001 59,250 $35,800
Radiologic Technologists 205,569 $57,500 36,532 17,181 53,713 $39,900
Respiratory Therapists 127,245 $58,500 29,213 14,499 43,712 $43,300
Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians, All Other 69,799 $47,900 35,992 5,391 41,383 $28,300
Computer Network Support Specialists 180,776 $66,100 24,555 15,431 39,986 $39,000
1. Occupation wages are as of 2014.
Source: JobsEQ