The Value of a Higher Education?

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
the value of a higher education

Quick! Which will earn you more: a doctorate in physics and a professorship at a university, or a high school diploma and a job with Chrysler? It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to guess the right answer to that one. Dr. Mark Perry from the University of Michigan looked at the average total compensation for auto workers (Big 2.8 and transplants) and college professors. He found the average autoworker with a high school diploma and maybe a year or two of technical school earned about $134K per year, while the average college professor makes about $93K in exchange for eight years of college and post-grad work. We won’t even look at what the typical high school or elementary school teacher makes in comparison to the janitorial staff in the auto plants.

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  • VLAD VLAD on Jul 17, 2007
    Union workers figured out that they could do better through collective bargaining than through individual negotiation. Negotiating as a unit gave them leverage that they didn’t have by themselves. We can quibble about whether or not we like it, but forming alliances and creating leverage in order to cut better deal terms happens all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with building your hand in order to do better. OK, so they are way ahead at halftime, let the buyers unite and bury them. I just can’t believe there are so many people green with envy and filled with hatred because someone else is doing better than they are Envy? LMAO

  • Mastermik Mastermik on Jul 17, 2007

    the nature of the work does play into this. because professors will work for less money if they have to, and its not easy to get a professorship, trust me. can tell you all about that. on the other hand, working on an assembly line is not exactly the most desirable job. but still, think of what would happen if professors united? The job is so specialized that its not nearly as easy to find good professors as it is to find good assembly-line workers. anyhoo, I think that union people get paid way too much, more than they deserve. unfortunately, a whole bunch of them are getting laid off as we speak. we'll see how they like the job market that asks you for your credentials and your credentials only, as opposed to how many other s are willing to go on strike with you.

  • SunnyvaleCA SunnyvaleCA on Jul 17, 2007

    The problem is that the earned UAW worker's "benefits" aren't going to the current workers; the benefits are going to retired workers. When the current workers retire, the big 2.5 will be out of business and not pay off the earned benefits. So, it's fine to say "labor costs" are $150k/year because the auto companies need to pony up that much to keep the union workers on the job, but it's not fine to say that the workers enjoy $150k in salery+benefits, as the benefits are going to someone else.

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Jul 17, 2007

    "BTW their wages are around 50k" - refering to Japanese workers. You did not take into account the health care, allowances, and benefits. I would wager that the overall compensation for Japanese workers is twice that amount AND they do indeed get a pension. However even though the differences aren't that great with the Japanese and American unions, I will say that auto workers in both countries are very well compensated for the work they do. So are executives, attorneys, accountants, and even yes, auctioneers and dealers in the auto industry like yours truly. I also know more than my share of repair shop owners, transportation operators, repo companies and rebuilders that make a very pretty penny for the work they do. There are many reasons for the high wages. Scarcity of supply, exceptional performance, industry driven collusion, nepotism, professional organization, and legal precedence all play a strong role in the auto industry's wage game. The reason why these studies stink is not because they may be biased or engender prejudices. It's because they don't encourage any reasonable discussion that can be used for a constructive purpose. This thread pretty much exemplifies it. The old 'They/You don't deserve it' arguments don't do anything but get emotions up. We need in depth discussions. Not sound bites and cliches.