According to Northeastern University’s Center For Labor Market Studies, Massachusetts has the largest gap between those at the top and bottom of the income spectrum of any state, except Arizona (we are tied for #1). The projected growth rate in Massachusetts for new jobs requiring post-secondary education is nearly twice the national average (60% vs. 38%). And, we lead the nation in the rate at which we’ve cut funding for public post-secondary education. Is all of this purely coincidental?
At a White House summit yesterday, President Obama called for 5 million more community college graduates over the next decade, a 50% increase. He’s seen the data and understands that projected growth in “middle-skill” jobs means that post-secondary certificates and degrees are key to job and income growth. But is this a realistic goal? Certainly not if we continue to reduce funding for public post-secondary education. And, certainly not if we continue to send thousands of students to community colleges every year un-prepared to succeed. Without changing these patterns, we will continue to see widening income gaps, and will likely leave Arizona behind.