The Case for State Investment in Higher Education

September 7, 2010

When you try to make “the economic development case for higher education,” it’s pretty easy. I’m not just talking about the huge economic impact of higher education institutions like the University of Washington. I’m talking about how important it is to the economy for people to get higher education. The Seattle Times put it pretty well yesterday: “More skills or less pay.”

The funny thing is that, while the above argument is easy to make, there’s a related one that’s not so easy: “the economic development case for state investment in higher education.” Read the rest of this entry »


Hey Kid, Go Be Entrepreneurial

August 3, 2010

One of the things that we hear a lot about in the economic development community is the importance of small business and entrepreneurship. A majority of jobs get created by small business, to say nothing about how many new products and innovations get launched that way as well. Here in Washington state, we’re great at entrepreneurship, with one of the highest rates of business starts per capita…except that we also have one of the highest rates of business failures per capita.

We’ve done a lot of research on that topic, and there are several reasons why those stats are somewhat misleading (for example, the high percentage of seasonal businesses…like farming…that get created and then close on purpose each year). And there’s issues with the B&O as a tax on businesses in the “valley of death” (pre-profitable, yet forced to pay a gross revenues tax). But it’s also true that successfully starting and running a business is hard, and there’s not actually a lot of resources out there to prepare you for it. Read the rest of this entry »


How Dare People Study Russian in College!

June 10, 2010

Since the beginning of the Great Recession,  I’ve noticed  a lot more handwringing about the costs of college and whether college is “worth it” anymore.  The big NYT piece a couple weeks ago highlighted a woman who has $100,000 in debt from her four-year degree at NYU, which she can’t pay because she doesn’t make enough money. But why doesn’t she make enough money? She got a liberal arts degree! Read the rest of this entry »


How to Increase Your Income 200 Times

April 22, 2010

This is not a post about a surefire real estate scheme, or about how to earn thousands of dollars for just minutes a day working from home.  It is however a post about a surefire income increasing scheme.  

Korean School

Studying english at a Korean elementary school

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, since the 1960s Korea has increased its per capita income by 200x, from $100 to over $20,000. 

How did it happen? Korea has invested in – and values – education and research to an unbelievable degree. Part of this is cultural. Confucian ideals guide Korea to a significant degree. But there is a widespread understanding that education is they key to individual and collective prosperity.  Read the rest of this entry »


Women and High Demand Degrees

April 20, 2010

If you listen closely, you can hear a whole bunch of the communications and government relations staff here at the Puget Sound Regional Council dropping their coffee mugs in fear and saying, “Uh oh, what is Eric going to write about gender and workforce issues that he is going to mean comically but will come off as controversial and get us all fired?” But don’t worry, team, I’m not going to do anything other than point out a very revealing set of statistics about the education levels of women… Read the rest of this entry »


Stop Labelling Me!

March 16, 2010

No, this is not a post about someone who keeps using one of those old school label makers to affix label stickers to me. It’s additional musing on yesterday’s super-wonky post in which I mentioned that industry cluster labels can get in the way of understanding how core goods and services in the economy can be used cross-sector. The example I used was aerospace machine shops being used to make wind turbine replacement parts: how would we know that we’re a region that has the capacity to be the center of wind turbine replacement part manufacturing if we didn’t look at a mix of occupational and cluster data? Read the rest of this entry »


Higher Education News Intersections: Coincidence? Yes.

February 17, 2010

I was in the doctor’s office on Monday, and their magazines are woefully out of date.  For some reason, they rely on donated magazines for their waiting room, so everything was old.  I ended up reading a November 2009 Newsweek article by Senator Lamar Alexander on “Why College Shouldn’t Take Four Years“. So, imagine my surprise when, the next day, I saw that our state Senate had done exactly what Alexander recommended. Read the rest of this entry »