June 24, 2013

Patricia Park argues the case for blue-collar work

Patricia Park makes more money bagging groceries than lecturing at a university. In an article for the Guardian here and excerpted below, she explains the economics 1-0-1 of supply and demand:
"At a time when unemployment is at an all-time high and college tuition continues to climb, the old formula no longer upholds. Students emerge with their hard-earned degrees and the college loans to show for it, but for what returns? The majority do not land a six-figure banking job straight out of school. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages for recent college graduates have not grown over the last decade, and actually dropped from 2007-11. In 2011, that average was just $16.81 per hour, a figure that barely makes a dent into student debt.  
Some decide to sit out the bad economy by pursuing an advanced degree, aiming to boost their future earning potential. It's a risky move in a climate where even Ivy League MBAs and lawyers are not immune to one or more rounds of layoffs. A college degree is increasingly becoming a privilege for those from higher-income households. The only guaranteed payoff from a college degree is the bill you'll be forced to pay every semester (and, likely, for years after you graduate). 
Compare this doom and gloom to some "menial" jobs. Blue-collar professionals like electricians are enjoying 23% job growth this decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They earn on average $52,910 a year, almost $10 more per hour than recent college grads, and the top 10% earn at least $82,680. Welding, light truck driving and plumbing are just some of the blue-collar fields with similar earning potential, and the vocational training required is a fraction of the cost of a college degree. If financial freedom is your ultimate endgame, then going into business for yourself can increase earnings exponentially, a message Rich Dad, Poor Dad has been peddling since the beginning of this millennium."
Read Patricia's article in the Guardian in full here.

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