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Richmond County trails Georgia, U.S. in residents with college degrees

Saturday, March 17, 2012 6:45 PM
Last updated Sunday, March 18, 2012 2:15 AM
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Megan Pike and Jennifer Peyeser are reminded every day to finish college by people wishing they had done things differently.

Josephine Courtright, 19, Megan Pike, 20, and Jennifer Peyser, chat before class Wednesday morning at ASU.   ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES
Josephine Courtright, 19, Megan Pike, 20, and Jennifer Peyser, chat before class Wednesday morning at ASU.

The Augusta State University students work part time at the Kroger in Evans for pocket money, but have learned the job means much more to some coworkers. They see the 60-year-old bagger who hasn’t gotten a raise in a decade. They see the single mother raising two children on $7.25 an hour.

“You see these people supporting a family on a small paycheck and they’re still struggling,” said Peyeser, 20, a cashier at Kroger. “They always tell us ‘Finish college and get an education because I wish that I had.’”

According to the latest U.S. Census data, having a college degree is less the norm in Richmond County compared to the nation. Only 21.6 percent of Richmond County residents 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree. That’s lower than the state average of 27.3 percent, which itself is lower than the national average of 30 percent.

Lower educational attainment levels translate into lower income, and, according to experts, are a barometer on a community’s economic health.

For instance, the average household income in Richmond County is $49,756. In neighboring Columbia County, where 33.6 percent of its residents over 25 have college degrees, the average household income is $81,553, according to the latest Census data.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median weekly earning for someone with a bachelor’s degree is $1,038 and $626 for high school graduates.

Additionally, those who hold college degrees stay out of the unemployment line more. In 2010, the unemployment rate for people holding just a high school diploma was 10.3 percent, compared to 5.4 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree.

University of Georgia demographer Douglas C. Bachtel said cities with more educated people also struggle less with social issues like crime, teen pregnancy and health problems.

“It all kind of goes together, which is pretty sad in a way,” he said. “Education is like a warm, fuzzy blanket that’s wrapped around you that informs you about bad decisions; the dietary stuff, the child abuse, the spouse abuse, the crime and all the social pathologies.”

Educational attainment also plays a role in community enrichment, Bachtel said. Communities with higher education often have more people willing to do community service projects and lead change to better the area.

“When you have low education levels, those folks are concerned about day to day living,” Bachtel said. “As a result, they don’t have the time or inclination to join those groups...There’s three important things for community and economic development: leadership, leadership, leadership.”

The decade-long increase in educational attainment nationwide, which Richmond County trails, comes as the U.S. continues a conversation about the value of higher education. In 2010, President Obama announced his goal to raise the college graduation rate to 60 percent by 2020.

The urgency comes as the U.S. has fallen from first to 12th in the world among countries with people holding at least an associate degree. But the country, especially Georgia, is also seeing a push for more skill-based workers in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.

Tricia Pridemore, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Work Force Development, said 16,500 trade jobs will become available in 2012 and 82,000 by 2016. The increase is spurred by more jobs opening from increased construction and a generation of long-time carpenters and builders who are dying out.

“We desperately need electricians, welders, pipe fitters, carpenters...” Pridemore said. “For the last two generations, we’ve told our kids in America that they have to go to a four-year college. Four year college is great...but it’s not for everybody.”

Although Richmond County has a lower educational attainment compared to the country, the statistic has not discouraged industry from coming to the area, according to Walter Sprouse, Jr., the executive director of Augusta Economic Development Authority of Richmond County.

He said businesses often choose locations based on the region and not just the central city. In 2011, the metro area saw $401 million of new industry – seven times what occurred in 2010.

“The main thing that companies are looking for is a workforce,” Sprouse said. “A bachelor’s degree does not necessarily guarantee you a job, nor does a technical degree. But in this day and age...the companies that we’re dealing with that come here, the first people they want to talk to are at Augusta Technical College.”

The focus on skilled laborers has grown with the construction of the Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School on Augusta Tech’s campus, which will offer courses like collision repair and culinary arts when it opens in August.

Nanette Barnes, the career, technical and agricultural education director for Richmond County schools, said students are realizing there are options besides a four-year degree.

“Sometime people don’t understand skilled labor does bring in money,” she said. “I’m not knocking college... but I think the mindset is changing. That’s a selling point for our young people now. They want something quick and right now to make money, and I don’t blame them.”

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dougk
3
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dougk 03/17/12 - 08:57 pm
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I'm so surprised!!! Not
Unpublished

I'm so surprised!!! Not really, all one needs to do is read the comments of the undereducated here.

raul
4089
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raul 03/18/12 - 12:01 am
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Not surprising when RC has a

Not surprising when RC has a 70 something percent high school graduation rate. I think Ms. Barnes makes a good point about technical school. You might want to read the article also in today's AC about the high unemployment rate among young college graduates.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 03/18/12 - 02:56 am
1
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Richmond County also trails

Richmond County also trails in the number of persons who hold HS diplomas worth the paper they're printed on.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 03/18/12 - 02:56 am
2
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Richmond County also trails

Richmond County also trails in the number of persons who hold HS diplomas worth the paper they're printed on.

seenitB4
81040
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seenitB4 03/18/12 - 08:08 am
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OK good thinking.....higher

OK good thinking.....higher education is good but let them have something in the BRAIN B4 they apply for the job...
Trade schools are VERY IMP.....plumbing-welding-spa treatments centers---on & on...culinary schools....$$$ to be made & happiness in your JOB...

Also VERY IMP.....for all kids...READ-READ-READ...everything you can get your hands on....have something in your hands to read at all times--waiting in line-Drs office--etc...If you can't afford books go to the DANG library...start with subjects that interest you & go from there.....believe me you won't be sorry.....
Some very smart blacks in Atlanta did just that when they worked for very rich men....they used the personal library in the house with the owners permission & some ended up in top government jobs..

seenitB4
81040
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seenitB4 03/18/12 - 08:23 am
1
0
Speaking of one of the

Speaking of one of the GREATS....Vernon Jordan is one of them...interesting guy.

From the civil rights revolution to the halls of power, the life story of a larger-than-life American leader. As a student in Atlanta, Vernon Jordan had a summer job driving a white banker around town. During the man's afternoon naps, Jordan passed the time reading books, a fact that astounded his boss. "Vernon can read!" the man exclaimed to his relatives. Nearly fifty years later, Vernon Jordan, long-time civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders, and one of the most charismatic figures in America, has written an unforgettable book about his life and times. It is a story that encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of black life during the civil rights revolution. After attending a predominantly white college in the midwest and graduating from Howard University Law School, Jordan became involved in the civil rights movement. He l ed the voter education project to register black voters in the South, and was president of the National Urban League, one of the great civil rights organizations of the era, where he was instrumental in integrating American businesses and providing economic and social support to the expanding black middle class. He survived a white racist's assassination attempt and later became a pillar of America's legal, corporate, and political worlds. But Jordan's life was shaped in his early years, and this book is also a moving testament to the family whose support and courage provided the framework for his achievements. Vernon Can Read! is a remarkable memoir of a life of courage, pride, sacrifice, style and accomplishment.

seenitB4
81040
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seenitB4 03/18/12 - 08:25 am
1
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Also some people learn charm

Also some people learn charm & wit while reading....LOL

(some on here are still learning)

justus4
99
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justus4 03/18/12 - 08:38 am
0
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OK, Richmond Co lacks an
Unpublished

OK, Richmond Co lacks an "educated" populace, but where is that county located? What state? Then look at the individuals leading the state - then look at the national ranking in terms of education of that state, 47th or 48th . So Richmond Co only reflects the educational priority of the state's leadership and political ideologies. A poorly educated population reflects directly on that state's entire population.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 03/18/12 - 08:41 am
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And we wonder why we cannot

And we wonder why we cannot lure jobs to Augusta? We owe it it every child to prepare them for life with job skills, it does not have to be a college degree but some form of advanced work skills are necessary. As parents and grandparents lets mentor our young to want a productive life. It would also be GREAT if members of the community would share their time to help others that do not have positive role models.

Riverman1
79145
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Riverman1 03/18/12 - 08:44 am
2
2
Everyone listen up here. It's

Everyone listen up here. It's simple. The South is coming out of an apartheid system that lasted, some of it with plain old slavery, for centuries. You can't reverse centuries of discrimination fast as much as we would all like that. Education is so much about family support and that requires educated parents which is going to take time because of the built in handicap of the undereducated parents cycle.

seenitB4
81040
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seenitB4 03/18/12 - 09:02 am
1
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IMO....Listen up to

IMO....Listen up to this....

We have CHANGED everything since the 1960s...that is at least 3 generations later .....most have had time to come out of ANYTHING....

Take the dang freebies away---make people get off the duffs & go to work AT SOMETHING....we are making some poor-stupid-& drug addicts....
People need to work the ole mind 24/7 we have taken that away from them...

Riverman1
79145
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Riverman1 03/18/12 - 09:07 am
0
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Sure government can effect

Sure government can effect policies that keep people helpless. Give people just enough to live on and there's no impetus to soar. Look at the Indians on the reservations v. those who get out and go for it.

seenitB4
81040
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seenitB4 03/18/12 - 09:11 am
0
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What you have been doing

What you have been doing rm.....is under-estimating others...the same dang thing the dear gov. does.....do you realize people will FIND A WAY to stay alive--to prosper ...even with many obstacles in the way...I see it on here day after day.

Riverman1
79145
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Riverman1 03/18/12 - 09:18 am
0
0
One thing I'll say about the

One thing I'll say about the Mexicans who come here to work. They work hard.

twolane
191
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twolane 03/18/12 - 10:36 am
0
0
blah blah blah learn a trade
Unpublished

blah blah blah learn a trade my waitress has a masters degree and obviously it has done anything for her.....you dont need a college degree you need a sharp mind.....where did bill gates graduate oops nope college drop out as were a huge number of billionaires....i myself am a college drop out and make more than my friend with a phd in psychology.....its already proven that a college degree doesnt mean anything these days....most job openings asak for a college degree but a degree in theology will suffice...employers just want a degree even if the degree has nothing to do with the job your applying for which is the stupidest thing ive ever heard of.....just like my buddy a car salesman...dropped out of high schools and makes 12 to 14,000 dollars a month..all you need in this world is drive....so next time you go to the carlot have a little respect your salesman might make more than you and your wife combined

twolane
191
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twolane 03/18/12 - 10:39 am
0
0
theres plenty of college
Unpublished

theres plenty of college grads out of work....and yet i know a high school drop out who sells cars abd makes over a 100,000 a year....learn a trade that is in demand or use your brain...its all about drive....bill gates the richest man in the world didnt need a college degree

burninater
8847
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burninater 03/18/12 - 11:11 am
0
0
Well, we wouldn't want any

Well, we wouldn't want any coordinated action on the national level to encourage higher ed graduate rates, because then we'd just be a bunch of snobs.

allhans
23201
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allhans 03/18/12 - 11:11 am
0
0
Ditto to Craig Spinks. Sit

Ditto to Craig Spinks. Sit in class long enough and you will be awarded a diploma.

Cdr4500
20
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Cdr4500 03/18/12 - 12:19 pm
0
0
What I find surprising is
Unpublished

What I find surprising is that they seem to find this surprising. We live in an area where anyone with a college degree is seen as an elitist, socialist liberal and frowned upon. If you frown upon higher education then obviously you're gonna have fewer people with college degrees walking around in your area :-/

0
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Pam Bowen 03/18/12 - 02:25 pm
0
0
I went to technical college

I went to technical college graduated with a diploma, I went to nonlinear college, run up a huge student loan bill. Now I have an Associate Degree and am working at a job that has nothing to do with my education and cant pay my loans, so I say go to technical school and get a "trade" and make that money. Wish now that's what I would of done.

0
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Pam Bowen 03/18/12 - 02:26 pm
0
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Sorry I meant online

Sorry I meant online university

countyman
19060
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countyman 03/18/12 - 06:22 pm
0
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I think the poster ohwell

I think the poster ohwell must have forgot about Rural Sourcing, ABS, FPL Foods, etc... Rockwood's $115 million plant breaks ground this year in South Augusta...

Actually we could use some help from the suburban counties to attract jobs.. The Bridgestone development in Aiken County is a good start..

The 21.6% is the percentage of people with an bachelors degree or higher..

Richmond County doesn't trail the US in every kind of degree.. I also wonder why the Chronicle always uses Richmond then brings up Columbia.. Aiken, Mcduffie, Burke, and Edgefield are all apart of the metro..

leebraxjr
262
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leebraxjr 03/18/12 - 09:58 pm
0
0
I have an opinion many of you

I have an opinion many of you may not like. In the 90's the song came out saying the "Children areour Future", those children that was being sung about were the kids we were raising from the early 80's that everything you see is yours.
As parents we have to ncultivate back iinto our children that life is not a silver platter. Become your family backbone and your children will follow, you you follow your child.

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