CT, US Lag in Postsecondary Degrees

April 26, 2012 | Hartford Business Journal |  Link to article

Connecticut and the rest of the U.S. are slipping at the rate at which young citizens earn undergraduate degrees, a shortfall that has implications for state and federal fiscal policies and global competitiveness, a new analysis shows.

The Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) shows to remain globally competitive, the U.S. must produce 24 million additional degrees -- 115,713 of them in Connecticut -- by 2025 to achieve a 60 percent degree attainment rate among adults ages 25 to 64.

At current attainment rates, the U.S. is on track to produce just 278,500 additional two- and four-year degrees by 2025 -- a significant shortfall, the analysis shows.

That alone means Connecticut will leave $960 million on the table in state revenues unless the state increases the number of adults with postsecondary credentials by 2025, the organizations said Thursday.

Under the state's current postsecondary patterns, annual personal per capita income in Connecticut is projected to fall about $233 in 2025, the analysis shows.

Additional state revenues in income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and savings in spending on Medicaid and corrections will decline by about $120 million in 2025 due to reductions in the number of college degrees.

However, if Connecticut achieves the 60 percent goal, the state will see revenue exceed postsecondary costs by approximately $670 million in 2025.

"For some states, the 60 percent goal is out of reach; however, all states would see substantial revenue gains if they invest in increasing the number of adults who attain postsecondary credentials," said NCHEMS Senior Associate Patrick Kelly.  "This is a win-win for states, their local businesses, and their local economies."

And that where the analysis has some good news in the analysis for Connecticut:  It ranks 42nd out of the 50 states in the increased percentage of degrees it needs to produce annually to meet the 60 percent goal - one of the smallest gaps in the nation.

By meeting the 60 percent credential attainment goal, average personal earnings and state revenues would increase significantly. Annual per capita income in Connecticut would increase by approximately $1,400 in 2025. State revenues would increase by about $840 million that same year.

Currently, the United States ranks 15th among 34 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries with only 41 percent of the young adults having college degrees, behind leading OECD countries like Canada, Japan, France and the UK.

The top three OECD countries -- South Korea, Canada, and Japan -- are on track to increase their college degree attainment to 60 percent by 2020.

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