Monday, January 24, 2011

Jobs and the "Education Premium"

While I was standing in line at the grocery store this weekend, I glanced at the issue of TIME Magazine on the rack. The cover, which looked like this (LINK), was about jobs, or "Where the Jobs Are." I read the articles in line, and then I read it online when I got home.

The stories focused on where the American job crisis is relenting, and where it is not. One author started with an analysis of what's happening now, and then shifted to what he expects in the future.

How does this tie back into the purpose of this blog?

The Pacific Islander Access project is a nonprofit focused on opening doors in academia that shouldn't be (but are) closed to Pacific Islander Americans. (If this is your first time reading our blog, here's a link for more about that: LINK) The article, among other things, was about how education is becoming more and more imporant to employment.

Here's the most relevent paragraph from, which talks about the "education premium":
The education premium -- the payoff for earning a degree -- will grow larger. According to Moody's, workers with a graduate, bachelor's or associates degree or even some college experience will get an increasing share of the jobs created. In 2011 the better educated will control 60.1% of all new jobs; by 2015, the projection rises to 64.4%, and that's even after construction bounces back.

It's more evidence that America is facing a bifurcated employment future. At the top end is a highly educated, technically competent workforce attuned to the demands of the global marketplace. At the other end is a willing but underskilled group that is seeing its prospects undermined by workers in countries like China in low-end manufacturing and by a skills mismatch in emerging industries.

My point is this: having access to higher education has been seen as a gateway to getting a great job. It still can be. But increasingly, education is playing a role in whether someone has a job at all - employment or unemployment.

Here's a link to the article I quoted: LINK


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Opening Day of Hawaii State Legislature

Today the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on the opening day of the 2011 Hawaii State Legislature. This presents the Pacific Islander Access project with an opportunity to shamelessly promote our mission of ending the exclusion of Pacific Islander Americans from scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented minorities.


Because six legislative sessions ago, the Hawaii State House of Representatives introduced and unanimously passed a resolution urging academic programs for underrepresented minorities to recognized Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Cindy Evans, along with Reps. Kanoho, Morita, and Schatz (former-Rep. Schatz is now Hawaii's Lt. Governor).

To learn more about the resolution, you can click hear and access the 2005 Hawaii State Legislature's list of adopted resolutions: LINK

The University of Hawaii testified in support of the resolution. Their testimony is archived online and can be viewed here: LINK

The PIA project extends its aloha again to Rep. Evans, Kanoho, Morita, Schatz, and all the members of the 2005 Hawaii House of Representatives for their role in unanimously passing the resolution.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Pacific Islander America: Northwest Arkansas

In several earlier posts, I've mentioned that while some Americans don't know a great deal about the Pacific Islander community, we are a distinct population found in every state of the union. Most Pacific Islander Americans live in the western states (I'm including Hawaii), but data indicates that we are becoming more geographically diverse.

Here's a great example: Yesterday the Northwest Asian Weekly posted an Associated Press article on the growing Marshallese population in Arkansas. The reporter mentions how the desire for education, especially for younger generations, played a role in the rising Marshallese population in that state. The reporter also mentions the connection between U.S. atomic bomb testing in the Marshall Islands and Marshallese immigration to the 50 States.

Here's a link to the full article so you can read for yourself: LINK


Sunday, January 09, 2011

If Trends Continue: Is there an End in Sight for the Underrepresentation of Pacific Islanders?

Happy New Year!

In the last post, I presented U.S. Census data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation from the past twenty years. As promised, in this post I'm expanding on what those numbers say. The question I'm going to answer is "what has the trend been for the past two decades in terms of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander college graduation?" The overall message is clear, but there are also what my dad would call "glass half-full and half-empty" ways of looking at the data.

The clear finding is that for at least the past twenty years, U.S. Census data has consistently shown that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented among college graduates.

Glass Half-Full
While Pacific Islanders continue to be underrepresented, the good news is that the percentage of us graduating is rising. Between 1990 and the data the Census used in 2010 publications, the percentage of Pacific Islanders with college diplomas increased from about 11 percent to 15 percent. That's an increase of about 36 percent. Pacific Islander scholars, community advocates and leaders, and others should be proud of this progress, especially since it has been achieved without access to most scholarships, fellowships, and other academic programs for underrepresented minorities.

Glass Half-Empty
You might wonder: if this increase in graduation rates continues, will Pacific Islanders no longer be underrepresented in the near future? Sadly, the numbers say absolutely not.

During the same time period that Census data showed a 36 percent increase in Pacific Islander college graduation, the overall U.S. population's graduation rate increased by about 40 percent. Pacific Islander graduation rates have risen, but not as fast as the overall population. Here's another way to look at it:

Census data says that in 1990, Pacific Islanders were 45 percent less likely to have a college degree than the general U.S. population.

According to Census data published in 2010, Pacific Islanders are 46 percent less likely to have a college degree than the general U.S. population.

That means that Pacific Islanders are almost exactly as underrepresented among college graduates now as they were 20 years ago. A continuation of this trend would be permanent underrepresentation in higher education.

If we are going break this trend, we will need find smarter, better ways to help Pacific Islanders succeed. One way to help Pacific Islanders in the next twenty years is to allow them to have access to the same resources as other underrepresented minorities - the scholarships, fellowships, and other academic programs for underrepresented minorities.