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Utahns with better educations fare better in jobs, life and family, new poll shows

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 17 2011 2:57 p.m. MDT

The poll is partially in response to Utah lawmakers, who wanted a study of just how valuable higher education is in the job market. The poll was presented Wednesday to members of the Utah Legislature's Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

Subcommittee co-chair Rep. Michael Morley, R-Spanish Fork, said the poll results clearly show that Utah's universities and colleges need to be more flexible in helping people obtain a degree while juggling jobs and family.

"We as a state need to look at ways to provide a better delivery system and be more flexible," Morley said, pointing to for-profit universities and their offering of flexible class schedules. At this point, Morley said he feels universities tend to tell students that it's either their way or no way.

Morley also said degrees should be evaluated for market demand and that taxpayer money should go toward supporting degrees that the job market has a demand for.

Some lawmakers have called into question the specific value of certain college degrees. Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, co-chairman of the Legislature's education committee, has questioned the labor market value of nonscience degrees — something Stephenson has called "degrees to nowhere."

But overall, lawmakers say it's clear that a better-educated community has great benefits.

Nationwide, Americans with at least a four-year bachelor’s degree tend to be employed more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in July 2011, the unemployment rate for those with at least a bachelor’s degree was only 4.3 percent, compared to 15 percent for those who have not finished high school, 9.3 percent for those who have only a high school diploma but no secondary education.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com

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