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One Way To Speed Up Economic Recovery? Focus On Adult Higher Education


When the Covid-19 pandemic ripped through the American economy last March, millions of people found themselves out of work. Individuals without higher education credentials were among those hit the hardest , prompting predictions that the pandemic’s economic fallout would drive up college enrollment like the 2008 recession did. But the boom has not come: enrollments declined by 2.5 percent in fall 2020 and continue to trend downward in spring 2021.

As the country transitions into what may be the final months of the pandemic and people continue to look to get back to work, what role will higher education play in the economy’s recovery?

While not every job requires a bachelor’s degree, nearly every job created since 2008 requires some education or training beyond high school. Pair that with the fact that over 100 million working aged adults do not hold any higher education credentials and the problem becomes clear: absent a robust expansion of the labor market or a strategy to rapidly reskill the workforce, millions of Americans could experience another slow, unequal recovery marked by sustained high unemployment.

If the workforce is at an inflection point, where the quality of the next recovery could determine the country’s long term economic […]

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