Letter: Economist’s assessment of job market inaccurate

To the editor:

I’m writing this as a counterpoint to Michael Hick’s column on income inequality on June 30.

As a retired educator, I know how important education is to our quality of life, but its use as job preparation has diminished in this century. Just because 38 million jobs in the United States are currently worked by people with some college education, it doesn’t mean those jobs use college-acquired skills or pay a living wage.

Check at the local McDonald’s or Walmart and see how many employees have college degrees but can’t find a better paying job.

When I was born in the 1950s, there was no “free trade” — using slave labor in third world countries — and labor unions here were strong. Now the U.S. labor market is fully controlled by businesses and their Wall Street owners who consider employees simply a negative on the balance sheet, a necessary expense to be minimized whenever possible. But no matter what level of education achieved by employees, labor markets are first and foremost human beings as much deserving of a living wage as their employers.

What are these high-skilled excess jobs referred to in the article? We actually have many well-trained Americans, but according to Microsoft we don’t have any people they need. They want to bring in immigrants who will work for lower wages and a green card. They don’t want to pay college-trained Americans. It is an unnecessary expense.

Why does an economist blame social and cultural problems for poor students not going to college instead of the rapid rise in college tuition? In “Trends in Higher Education,” the College Board reports that as states have dramatically decreased their support for state colleges, student tuition and student loans (that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy) have skyrocketed.

Today’s high school students look at older siblings who are back living at home with thousands of dollars in federally insured student loans that they can’t pay off because wages are so suppressed, and so decide not to go to college. Who can blame them?

Janette Morgan