PoliGraph: Klobuchar right on student debt, jobs

  1. Listen Policast: Aug. 22, 2014

poligraph-accurateSen. Amy Klobuchar stopped by the MPR News State Fair booth this week to talk about beer, guns and the economy.

But her answer to a question about student loan debt stood out to PoliGraph.

“When you look at the average debt for students in Minnesota… it’s something like $30,000,” Klobuchar said.

College graduates aren’t trained for the jobs that are available, she added.

“One of the things that I’ve found frustrating is that we have something like 80 percent of our manufacturers in Minnesota have job openings,” she said.

Klobuchar is nearly correct on both accounts.

The Evidence                   

Minnesota graduates carry a lot of debt compared to other states.

In 2012, Minnesota ranked fourth with average student debt around $31,500.

Klobuchar argues that part of the problem is that students aren’t finding good paying jobs after they graduate. Some of those jobs are now in the manufacturing sector, but students don’t have the right skills for the work.

“Some of these jobs are good jobs. They’re running robotics equipment, fixing it,” Klobuchar said. “These manufacturing jobs are no longer the three ‘Ds’: Dark, Dirty and Dangerous.”

Among all Minnesota manufacturers, about 67 percent say it is difficult to attract qualified candidates to job vacancies. Klobuchar’s staff says she was specifically talking about Minnesota’s large manufacturers. Roughly 80 percent of them have this problem.

The Verdict

Although she was a little imprecise, Klobuchar is essentially correct. She earns a State Fair blue ribbon.

  • Steven Savageau

    I assume the debt referred to is that carried by those graduating with bachelor’s degrees. I also assume that the manufacturing jobs need graduates with technical degrees and certificates. That’s a big disconnect. You need to make sure that there are jobs available for bachelor’s degree graduates while recruiting more people for the skilled technical programs to fill those jobs.

    • Andrew_DeMoray

      Who is “you” that has such control over the job market? While students’ degree choices are typically independent of the job market, maybe the buyer should beware and think about the job prospects for the chosen degree. Personal responsibility?

  • southmpls

    if the student has a degree and the factory needs workers, will the factory train the “critical thinker” graduate and pay wages commensurate with a bachelor’s degree? what I’m reading suggests more toward $8/hour factory jobs. those won’t attract college grads. how are the community college 2 yr grads doing in the factory sector? are they getting livable wage jobs? there’s also location to consider. college grads prefer urban areas and the factories are probably more exurbs and rural Minnesota but the community colleges are also there, so perhaps those grads want to stay and work in the same neighborhoods as their comm. colleges.