More College Degrees Equals Better Economy in New Mexico

April 26, 2012 | New Mexico Business Weekly |  Link to article

A growing reduction in the number of college graduates in New Mexico is projected to lead to lower income, property and sales tax revenue for the state by 2025. Annual per capita income also is expected to decrease slightly, according to a review of U.S. Census and other data by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

The two organizations say an evaluation of Census, National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education data shows that "in order to remain globally competitive, the United States will need to produce 24 million additional degrees by 2025 to achieve a 60 percent degree attainment rate among adults 25 to 64 [years of age]." If the U.S. fails to substantially grow the number of "credentialed adults, the country stands to walk away from about $600 billion in additional national revenue by 2025," the two organizations said.

"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 post-secondary credentials," said Patrick Kelly, senior associate at NCHEMS.

In New Mexico, continues the report, "the current rate is 33.1 percent." The U.S. also continues to fall behind other top nations in the number of adults with the skills needed by employers, notes the analysis. America ranks 15th among the 34 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries with 41 percent of college degreed young adults, behind Canada, Japan, France and the United Kingdom, where more than half the adult populations hold degrees. CLASP and NCHEMS said the top three OECD countries, South Korea, Canada and Japan, are "on track" to grow their college degree attainment to 60 percent by 2020.

At current attainment rates, the U.S. is on track to produce 278,500 additional degrees by 2025, say the two groups.

CLASP and NCHEMS said New Mexico ranks No. 9 among the 50 states based on its current college graduate achievement rate gap. For New Mexico to meet the 60 percent goal, it would need to graduate 208,467 adults between now and 2025, or an average of about 14,900 per year, from its combined two and four-year degree programs at institutions of higher ed across the state. The Land of Enchantment would have to outperform the leading states' college attainment rates to accomplish that, the analysis contends.

CLASP and NCHEMS said "simply by equaling top states' performance, New Mexico could reap significant revenue - annual per capital income would increase by approximately $1,200 in 2025 and state revenue would increase by about $275 million that year."

View the CLASP-NCHEMS Return on Investment dashboard here, the executive summary here and the State Ranking fact sheet here.


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