A ‘Good Job’ with No Wealth

This week in Ryan’s Weekly Wave: A study by a college says that people should go to college, a separate college is sued for deceptive marketing tactics, and Super Mario Bros is back.

A recent study by a college indicates that going to college will enhance young people’s chances of landing a so-called “good job.”

Read more about this in the Deep Dive Section.

In the News

4 Day Work Week Gains Momentum: 2 state legislators in Massachusetts proposed a tax credit incentive for businesses who allow employees to only work 32 hours, while still getting paid for 40. (CNBC)

Shifty Selling: A lawsuit alleges that USC’s online Master’s in Social Work program was deceptively marketed by claiming it offers equal value to its in-person equivalent. (Higher Ed Dive)

Fewer Job Openings: US job openings drop and layoffs increase in March. (Wall Street Journal)

  • This could be a warning sign that the economy is on the verge of slowing.

Other News

Here is why employees are staying silent when they see unethical behavior at work. (Gallup)

Is HR supposed to make workers happy? (SHRM)

A Deeper Dive – A Good Job with No Wealth

A Georgetown University study looked into how various career decisions impact the chances of people in their 20s landing a “good job” by the age of 30. The study defined a “good job” as a role obtained between 30-45 years old that pays at least $38,000 in 2020 dollars.

Here were the key findings on which factors most impacted the obtainment of a good job: (Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce

  • Young people who completed their degrees by age 26 were 16% more likely to land a good job when compared to those who did not finish (56% for finishers and 40% for non-finishers).
  • Working a STEM job by age 22 led to a 25% chance.
  • A blue collar jobs came in at 16% and low-paying jobs 14%.
  • Having a consistent job history had a slight impact, with people who reported no employment gaps enjoying a 4% bump in their odds.

Income vs. Wealth

The data suggest what most still agree on: A college degree still appears to positively impact career growth in most cases. However, this may not last much longer as the market continues to become saturated with graduates and colleges fail to evolve even when faced with declining enrollments. (Forbes

Further numeric evidence suggests a major factor that colleges routinely omit from analyses like these. A St. Louis Federal Reserve analysis suggested that college graduates have lower net worths even if they tended to have higher incomes. (St. Louis Federal Reserve)

A good job

It appears that while college does help people earn a higher income, in most cases a high debt load can also drain graduates’ overall wealth.

A Critical Lens

One could easily and reasonably read these numbers and conclude that they do affirm the value of a college degree. However, there are a some serious limitations that should be considered to add further context.

A Study from the Sales Team

A college conducting a study that promotes the importance of going to college should always raise eyebrows. Imagine if you owned a business and could leverage your reputation as a research institution that uses the scientific method and in your conclusion you get to claim that giving you money is the best idea.

That is a super power. Any time colleges make claims like this, we should ask questions just as we would with any other industry.

A “Good Job” pays $38,000?

If the prospect of earning $38,000 per year in 2020 dollars by the age of 45 sounds like a “good job,” you had better live in an area with a low cost of living. There are major problems with the mindset of leaders at US colleges if they actively consider an income of $38,000 at 30 or 45 years old to be “good.” Especially when they now regularly charge $50,000 per year for 4 or more years. (Education Data Initiative)

*See my previous Newsletter about how college now costs as much as a home.

It would be interesting to see what happens to these numbers if the income threshold for a ‘good job’ were increased. Maybe the data would show that an increasingly large proportion of college graduates are barely scraping by with “good jobs” and massive debt burdens while many who did not attend college at all are doing much better.

Could it be that many of the young people who did not go to college are earning reasonably high incomes, significantly more wealth, living in homes that they own, getting married, and starting a family while college students trapped in a debt trap and unable to do all or even any of these things?

Parents and prospective students ought to ask: Just how useful is a “good income” without the ability to generate wealth from a young age?

What I’m Reading

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle

This book continues to pop up on lists of people’s favorite books. As I began reading, I expected the book to be similar to Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking or Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (both are great books by the way – you should buy them). It was similar on some levels, but more profound.

Tolle’s main theme is to emphasize the value of centeredness. This is achieved by habitually directing the mind not just onto the present (rather than the past or future), but also away from the ego. For most people, the ego tends to drive our behavior and this makes us spiritually adrift and unhappy.

One intriguing additional theme was the pitfalls that come from basing our personal identity on a worldly theme. This includes characteristics like race, gender, political affiliation, and various personality traits. Tolle encourages readers to focus on what is, rather than what you personally think, and to prioritize acceptance of the world we all share – even if we don’t like it. By doing this, we can remain centered and less captivated by surrounding noise.

Some books are so good that you need to engage with them again. In the future, I expect this book to re-emerge on my reading list. 

What I’m Listening To

How American Cities Can Avoid the ‘Urban Doom Loop’ – The Plain English Podcast w/ Derek Thompson (Podcast) 

  • City downtowns are suffering as economic activity moves to the suburbs and sunbelt. Host Derek Thompson is joined by Dror Poleg for a nuanced conversation on the future of cities in a post-pandemic world.

Quotes of the Week

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it” 

– Eckhart Tolle

Articles of the Week

Unlock the Magic of your anxiety. (Dr. Allison Answers)

Increasing productivity is easy. Just steal Tim Ferriss’s journal! While devising your plan, you could do these other things in the meantime. (Get Your Gusto Back)

How you write emails matters. Here are some tips to avoid sounding petty or passive aggressive. (HR Brew)

What does the future hold if human beings cannot even agree on reality itself? (Jeff Goins – Substack)

From Deep Dive Careers: Your Responsibility to Self Educate

  • There is a danger in entirely outsourcing the quality of your education to colleges and other institutions. It is better to take responsibility for the specifics of your own education. There are no shortcuts.

Other Fun Stuff

The new Super Mario Bros movie has joined 4 other post-pandemic movies that have eclipsed $1 billion in box office sales (Chartr – via Twitter)

The list of the top 10 highest paid athletes is out. Can you guess who is number 1? (Forbes)

Dad Joke of the Week

Dada says: 

Q: How do you know when a bucket is sick?

A: It looks a little pail.

*This post may contain affiliate links. These help financially support the Deep Dive Careers platform.

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