What's the Value of Education?

Education is no guarantee of skill, ability, value or results.

In the work world, this is an observable truth. Some of the smartest, most capable and productive people have little or no advanced education. Some of the least effective people have impressive credentials and multiple degrees.

The opposite is also true. Sometimes the least educated are the least productive, while the most educated provide the most measurable value.

In the testing ground of work and reality, education is simply one indicator among many. With that groundwork established, let’s take a look at the value of education and its effect on employment during the recent recession and recovery.

David P. Goldman, who writes under the pen name Spengler, presented interesting employment data in The Winner Economy & the Loser Economy. He doesn’t cite data sources, but the findings mirror a variety of studies that reveal similar outcomes.

During this most recent recession and recovery, the data indicate those with:
  • No college education: Unemployment rate of 9.9%
  • Some college education: Unemployment rate of 8.6%
  • A bachelor’s degree or more: Unemployment rate of 5%

Workforce participation is a more powerful way to grasp the impact of education on employment:
  • No college education: 61% participation
  • Some college education: 70% participation
  • A bachelor’s degree or more: 76% participation

In other words, among those with no college education, only six in ten people are actively engaged in the workforce. Among those with some college education, seven in ten are actively participating. And, among those with a bachelor’s degree, nearly eight in ten are actively participating.

Each additional increment of education created a significant boost in workforce participation and some protection against unemployment.

A college education does have value, but that value comes without guarantees.

If you're seeking a hedge against the next economic downturn, even some college-level education offers enhanced security, plus the opportunity to have more choices and greater control over your own future.

What's the value of education? You gain greater security, choice and control, important factors in an unpredictable world.


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