August 18, 2011
Poll: Higher education helps Utahns get happier, wealthier
(Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune) — A new survey underwritten by Utah’s business community documents broad social and economic benefits enjoyed by those with college degrees, suggesting that public investment in higher education offers robust returns.
Degree holders are less likely to have been unemployed and to have tapped public assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid, according to a presentation to a legislative panel meeting Wednesday at Mountainland Applied Technology College. Those with degrees reported better health, greater career and personal satisfaction and greater community engagement, not to mention 75 percent greater earning power, said Randy Shumway, president of the Salt Lake City market research firm Cicero Group.
“The fact that those who obtain a level of education beyond high school make more money won’t surprise many,” said Mark Bouchard, senior managing director of CB Richard Ellis. “What we see from the survey is that the benefits go well beyond the paycheck.”
Bouchard chairs Properity 2020, a partnership of a dozen Utah business groups that commissioned the survey to support its ambitious agenda to build a more educated workforce. Cicero sent invitations to 10,000 Utah residents who were randomly selected yet were representative of the state’s demographics. Researchers gathered the data by mail, in person, by phone and by email from 1,200 respondents, generating a robust and reliable dataset that pointed to some surprising results, according to Shumway.
“Those who completed degrees are 2.6 times more likely to work in a salaried rather than an hourly job,” Shumway told the Legislature’s Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
Prosperity 2020’s goals dovetail with the Utah System of Higher Education’s initiative to increase to two-thirds the portion of Utah’s adult population with a postsecondary degree or certificate.
Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg noted that the 28 percent of the population with a bachelor degree covers nearly half the state’s tax revenues.
“Over the course of their work life, students who receive a baccalaureate degree earn about $650,000 more than high school graduates — a significant increase over those who end their education right after high school,” he said. “The benefits of a college degree extend beyond monetary value too, as individuals with college degrees experience increased career opportunities, better health care benefits and overall a deeper quality of life.” More…Posted by: psilberman