From East Texas to the Rio Grande Valley, employers and business organizations are calling on educators and policymakers to strengthen the pipeline of skilled talent in our state.
We've collected and analyzed publicly-available data to inform the important ongoing work of Texas Commission on Community College Finance and others. The visualizations, when taken together, tell an important story about the future of our state: Higher education levels generally lead to higher wages, but community college enrollment and completion is down, costing the state billions in forgone earnings each year.
Below are brief descriptions of the following four dashboards along with the story each tells:
1. Texas is losing out on billions in potential earnings by failing to support more students through postsecondary completion.
The "Higher Education Completion Dashboard" looks at what percentage of our state's cohort of 8th graders from 2009 ultimately went on to complete high school, enroll in college, and attain any type of degree or certificate ten years later. There are clearly significant barriers that cause attrition at each of these important educational benchmarks– such as lack of access to personalized advising– ultimately resulting in over $100 billion of potential earnings forgone for each 8th grade cohort with similar outcomes. This cohort can be narrowed to specific Texas counties; we encourage you to explore the specific outcomes in your region.
2. The pandemic had an especially negative impact on community college enrollment, which declined over 13% in two years.
Student achievement across a number of indicators was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but its effects on a subset of postsecondary institutions was particularly severe. The 'Higher Education Enrollment Dashboard' highlights a decline that was limited almost entirely to public 2-year institutions, lowering overall enrollment. Targeted interventions at the state and local levels will be needed to discover who stopped out during the pandemic and why, as well as reengage students and boost community college enrollment.
3. A postsecondary credential alone is not always enough.
Even armed with an associate or bachelor's degree, a majority of Texans aged 25-34 do not earn $50,000 a year, the amount determined by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Living Wage Calculator to cover most basic living expenses in the major metropolitan regions of the state. This reinforces the need for colleges to collaborate with businesses to offer credentials that are relevant to the local employment opportunities to ensure more Texans have the opportunity to earn a self-sustaining wage.
4. Postsecondary attainment and earnings are closely linked.
The 'Educational Attainment and Median Income Dashboard' explores the relationship between the number of 25-34 year olds with a postsecondary degree and the median incomes in a given state (of similar size to Texas) or region (of similar size to Dallas County). When placed on the scatter plot below, a clear positive trend line emerges: the more credentials, the higher the economic output.