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Salary data tell an interesting tale about WCC grads

I was looking at salary data on workers with Associate degrees recently. The national average hourly wage for a worker with an Associate degree is $22. Naturally, the next question is, “How does Michigan compare?” Glad you asked. At $17/hour, Michigan ranks 46th among all 50 states in the average hourly wage for workers with Associate degrees.

The only states that have lower average salaries for Associate degree holders are Alabama, Florida, Illinois and Mississippi.

The salary data, which come from Zip Recruiter, and are updated weekly, get more interesting. In Ypsilanti, the average hourly wage for an Associate degree holder is $21. And in Bridgewater Township, you can pull in $20 per hour. In Ann Arbor Township, Barton Hills, Manchester, Milan, Northfield Township, Superior Township an Associate degree will get you $19 per hour. In Whoville-on-the-Huron, however, your Associate degree is worth only $18 per hour.

An Associate degree in Ypsilanti is literally worth 17% more than it is in Ann Arbor. Annualized, that’s about $6,250 more in gross salary.

So much for being in a “rich community.” It’s kind of ironic when you think about it. Ann Arbor voters fall over themselves to pay higher taxes for WCC. Just don’t ask them to pay higher wages for WCC graduates.

Salary data raises more serious question about ROI

It raises a more serious issue, however. Is WCC missing out on opportunities to offer academic programs that yield higher wages for graduates? On the flip side, is WCC geared toward producing graduates to occupy low-wage positions?

There’s a huge and growing market for workers in alternative energy fields. The average annual salary for clean energy workers is about $60,000. This industry is ideal for two-year graduates and many community colleges have or are creating these programs. WCC has nothing in this space.

It’s too bad that WCC killed its drafting program, because drafters can make about $60,000 per year. Not only that, several of WCC’s existing programs could benefit from restarting the drafting program.

If you’re going to ask taxpayers to invest a quarter-billion over five years into WCC under the premise that it will help Washtenaw County residents land better paying jobs, shouldn’t that investment return more than $18 per hour to the largest community in the County? Ann Arbor taxpayers pay the most for WCC and get one of the worst returns!

And if you’re going to ask people to devote time, effort and money to a degree program that is supposed to help them increase their earning potential, shouldn’t your degree programs actually do that?

Photo Credit: frankieleon , via Flickr