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“How College Debt Ate My Parents’ 401k”

The Wall Street Journal ran a particularly sobering story recently (February 2-3) about how “Older Americans are being crushed by a mountain of student loans—their children’s and their own.”  How badly crushed, exactly?  Some numbers from the article, “Student Debt at 65,” by AnnaMaria Andriotis: “One generation of Americans owed $86 billion in student loans at last count. Its members are all 60 years old or more.” “On average, student loan borrowers in their 60s owed $33,800 in 2017, up 44% from 2010.” “The federal government disbursed $12.7 billion in new ‘Parent Plus’ loans during the 2017-18 academic year, up...

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STEMentor in the Twin Cities Preps Students for STEM Careers

There is a scarcity of workers with basic STEM competencies across the entire economy, touching on virtually every industry. Think of this problem as a lack of basic STEM literacy. How might this deep, country-wide problem be alleviated? A major step in the right direction is the growing number of educational, industrial, and other programs aimed at increasing fundamental STEM competence....

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Employers look to hire ex-felons trained in technical programs

Many Minnesota employers are struggling to find workers. One place most aren’t likely to look is among ex-felons, who make up about 8 percent of the state’s adults, according to MPR. Things are changing in that respect, however. With Minnesota’s near-record jobless rate and more vacancies than job-seekers, employers are taking a new look at a population that’s historically had a hard time finding work....

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Dear Educated Women, Blue-Collar Men Can Earn Great Livings

It’s worth remembering, if you’re looking for a husband or partner. This commentary appeared at NationalReview.com on January 17, 2019. The U.S economy is aching for many more highly skilled, technically trained people. But what if men end up limiting their eventual marriage prospects if they pursue careers in the trades or other jobs that don’t require a four-year degree? Some proportion of women who have bachelor’s and post-baccalaureate degrees avoid romantic involvements with such guys, holding out for those with B.A.s, M.B.A.s, or J.D.s. Which is to say, they seek potential husbands who have degrees that are more generally esteemed than...

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SAY WHAT? American Experiment’s Greater Minnesota Advisory Board will tap into can-do attitudes on policy initiatives.

This column, by American Experiment Chairman Ron Eibensteiner, appears in the new Winter 2019 Issue of Thinking Minnesota. All the political talk about “Two Minnesotas” in this past campaign season inspired me to think long and hard about what exactly that means—and what we at the Center can do about it. To me, the first Minnesota consists of a political aristocracy, mostly urban, totally liberal, a political nobility composed of unionists, academics, social engineers and media whose attitude about governance can be summed up in three words: “We know better. Forget the real-world costs of coping with our lofty policies.” The other...

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Ideas for improving the lot of American workers (open minds requested)

A new book sounds at times like the stuff of a Democratic caucus, at others like grist for a GOP one. Either way, it sure makes you think.  This op-ed appeared in the Star Tribune on January 7, 2019. Most everyone has heard about leaving your anger at the door. For the discussion that follows about a new book by Oren Cass, “The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America,” you may want to leave ideology behind, too. A senior fellow at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, Cass writes from the right. But his ideas about the right...

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Turning Away Business

In a front-page story in the Star Tribune, “Help Wanted: Homebuilders Need Workers” (December 27), reporter Jim Buchta opened by noting how the “labor crunch is hitting home in the Twin Cities.” A short while later Buchta quotes the executive director of Housing First Minnesota, David Siegel, who says meeting Gov. Mark Dayton’s goal of 300,000 new homes of all kinds in the next decade “will be exceptionally difficult if we don’t address this labor shortage.” This is abundantly true....

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“Labor Day Project” Helps Employers Rethink Recruitment Efforts

Minnesota’s accelerating talent shortage has created a mismatch in our labor market. Employers are desperate for skilled workers but are struggling to find and retain talent. Why? Why are these well-paying, very-little-debt-incurring career paths going unfilled? Dave Zdon and Dan Nyberg decided to find out for themselves. After learning about the skilled labor shortage while creating LEAN Construction training, and discussing the shortage on Labor Day in 2017, the Labor Day Project was created....

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