Jobs, wages, college educations on decline for Ohio

Rachel Abbey

Ohio’s economy is moving away from its agricultural and manufacturing past and toward an information and knowledge-based job market, according to a 2004 report done by the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education and the Economy.

This movement has caused an increase in interest about the connection between higher education and the job market.

Ohio is an under-educated state, said Pat Myers, director of government relations, and it needs more graduates to jump-start the market.

According to Policy Matters Ohio’s annual report, “The State of Working Ohio,” the state has been losing jobs, and the median wage has been declining over the past few years.

Ohio can be a good place to raise families, but the economy is lagging, Myers said.

“If we can also be known for higher education and innovative graduates, companies will come,” she said.

The government has realized the connection between education and economy, Myers said.

“Most people believe that areas with a more highly educated population will attract better companies, better jobs and have more economic growth,” said Kathryn Wilson, associate professor of economics.

For example, on a global level, Ireland has recently been experiencing growth because of increased skills in the workforce, Wilson said. Companies such as Dell have been opening branches in the country, further encouraging growth.

In order for the United States to continue to compete economically and academically, it needs to strengthen its higher education system, Myers said.

Ohio has fallen behind economically in recent years, and its number of college-educated workers is still low, said Donald Williams, associate dean of the Graduate School of Management.

Gov. Bob Taft created the Commission on Higher Education and Economy in 2003 to examine this connection and discover ways for higher education to become more efficient and productive, according to its Web site. President Carol Cartwright was one of its members.

The commission released its report, “Building on Knowledge, Investing in People: Higher Education and the Future of Ohio’s Economy,” in 2004.

According to the report, the commission is looking at ways to make higher education more accessible to students, to be able to offer companies more graduates and to make Ohio more competitive.

The recently created Ohio Partnership for Continued Learning is also concerned with the economy, Myers said. The partnership aims to make a smoother transition from high school to higher education, as well as encourage universities to improve graduation rates.

The creation and application of new knowledge gained in higher education benefit the economy, Williams said, because research helps to keep the workforce competitive.

“Higher education is essential to economic growth in the modern economy,” Williams said.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].