The state of Michigan needs to increase the number of black and low-income citizens who graduate from two- and four-year universities in order to strengthen Michigan’s delicate economy, according to a report released last week.

Julie Rowe

The report, published by the California-based National Center for Higher Education Management Systems and Jobs for the Future, assessed the strengths and weaknesses of each state. It stressed the importance of increasing the percentage of college graduates in Michigan.

Michigan fared reasonably well in the survey, which said that in order to solve Michigan’s economic problems, improvements in education are essential.

“Today Michigan ranks slightly behind the nation in the percentage of adults ages 25-64 who have a college degree,” the report said. “Assuming that current trends in college completion and in-migration of college-educated adults continue, Michigan is expected to move slightly ahead of the nation on this measure in 2025.”

Stephen DesJardins, an associate professor in the School of Education, said the report seemed accurate , but he said he was cautious about projecting 25 years into the future.

“That’s an awful long time,” DesJardins said of the long-term projections in the report. “I think the trends are right. There’s a lot of talk about knowledge economy and if you’re going to draw jobs that require a knowledgeable workforce, we’ll need a better educated workforce.”

The state’s major flaw, according to the report, is low graduation rates among minority students in high school and college.

But the report praised the state’s high school and college graduation rates for all students. It also noted that the state of Michigan sent high school graduates to college at a higher rate than the national average.

Some nearby states did better than Michigan, though. The report lauded Minnesota for its high percentage of college graduates.

“Minnesota is among the best performing states in the nation in the percentage of adults ages 25-64 who have a college degree,” the report said.

But like Michigan, Minnesota must increase its number of college graduates to solve its other problems, the report said.

DesJardins said he was not surprised by the high marks Minnesota received. But he cautioned against using the data to make comparisons.

“That’s the beauty of these in some ways, they allow comparisons,” he said. “That’s the downside also; the comparisons may not be all that valid. There’s a very different context for each state.”

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