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Increased Attainment Drives Economic Growth for Arizona

January 9th, 2020

Educational attainment is a powerful driver of economic growth. In Arizona, almost 70 percent of all jobs require some form of postsecondary education. College attainment brings economic and social benefits for graduates and for the entire state. College graduates earn more over the course of their lifetimes, benefit from lower unemployment rates, and are more competitive in Arizona’s 21st century workforce.

This is one reason why College Success Arizona wants to significantly increase the college attainment rate of Arizona’s students. It is especially important for those who otherwise would not be able to attend or graduate, such as low-income, first generation, and Latino students.

Over a lifetime, it is estimated that bachelor’s degree holders will out-earn individuals who have only a high school diploma by nearly one million dollars. Troublingly, though, among Arizona’s Latino residents, only 11 percent hold a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, 33 percent of white adults in Arizona hold a bachelor’s degree. A persistent attainment gap between Latino and white residents diminishes Arizona’s economic competitiveness and negatively impacts all Arizonans.

This is not just a matter of educational and social equity. It is also a powerful engine for economic growth in Arizona. Increasing college attainment to 60 percent would add $3.5 billion in personal income and tax revenue to the state economy.

To improve college access and attainment, Arizona can:

  • Pursue talent development strategies that prepare students to graduate from high school who are ready to enter college and/or the workforce, provide multiple pathways to success, and cultivate initiatives that create pipelines to in-demand careers.
  • Invest in programs that provide credentials and certificates that lead to sustainable employment and cultivate new approaches to delivering instruction at a reduced cost and in underserved rural areas of the state.
  • Reach the statewide goal, set by Achieve60AZ, of ensuring that 60 percent of Arizonans age 25 and older have a college certificate or degree by 2030.

To learn more, read our policy brief Advancing the Economy Through Attainment: What Arizona Can Learn From States With Higher Education Attainment Goals.

Attainment Video

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