Healthy job market affects college enrollment

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Healthy job market affects college enrollment

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Statistics have shown that a healthy job market and college enrollment rates do not have a direct relationship.

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the national unemployment rate is currently 3.7% as of July 2019 and approximately 164,000 jobs were created.

With the job market currently doing so well, many students decide to join the job market out of high school rather than attend college.

The National Center for Education Statistics’report, most recent numbers estimates that in 2017, as the job market began to improve and the economy continued its recovery from the Great Recession, overall enrollment in four-year colleges or universities has dropped from 46% to 44.2%.

Rusty Juban, associate professor of management and business administration, explained why students choose not to go to college, especially in Louisiana.

“Very few states have the dynamic that we have like the oil and gas jobs, which are up and down jobs,” explained Juban. “Because of this, these jobs offer a lot of money for unskilled labor. These types of unskilled labor jobs tend to be more widely available in periods of a positive job market, not only here in Louisiana but nationwide. You can have people who literally walk into these jobs and make $25-$30 an hour with almost no skill. That is a pretty good wage and that draws people away from wanting to go to school.”

With the abundance of low-skill yet high-paying jobs available in a positive job market, Juban feels that some students are more likely to choose the higher paying job .

“At the end of the day, I think it all goes back to the individual,” explained Juban. “The individual’s ability to delay gratification is going to determine if they choose to go to college or not in times like these. If you want to go to school because you realize there is an opportunity get a more sustainable job to make more money, but it is going to be later. This is opposed to an 18-year-old being offered more money than you feel like you can make or more money than your parents make. If you are sitting there, and you are 18 years old, and your parents are making $14 an hour and someone offers you a job that makes more money, some might be tempted to jump at it.”

Dr. David Faucheux, instructor of management and business administration, feels that no matter how the markets are doing, students should stay in school.

“The numbers and facts show that in a depressed market, college enrollment is up,” said Faucheux. “However, I believe that even in a good market, every young person should be given the opportunity to further their education and learn more regardless of how the economy is doing at that moment.”

Faucheux also emphasized what he feels are the dangers of getting a job straight out of high school without any prior experience.

“Whenever you graduate high school and you have no skill that makes you attractive to possible workers, you have an average six months to find a job,” said Faucheux. “People who have not had a job in six months have difficulty finding a job because businesses start to wonder why you have not had a job for so long. In this scenario, you have two options: sit around or go to college to obtain more skills and experience.”

Regardless of the markets, Faucheux believes obtaining experience and skills in college is useful for all students.

“College enrollment should continue to go up regardless of the markets,” explained Faucheux. “Every kid should be given the opportunity to further their dreams.”