Gainful employment provides the Biden administration an opportunity to advance the ‘good jobs’ agenda
Higher Ed Dive
Mary Alice McCarthy and Rachel Fishman
April 17, 2023
The share of U.S. jobs that pay low wages and do not include benefits has grown steadily over the last two decades. Reversing that trend has become the centerpiece of the Biden administration’s domestic agenda, which it has pursued through a combination of job-generating investments, regulatory reforms and administrative actions.
The U.S. Department of Education’s soon-to-be-released gainful employment rule provides another opportunity for the administration to advance its “Good Jobs” agenda, this time by shutting down a publicly subsidized pipeline to low-wage, precarious jobs with low returns on investment.
Specifically, the administration, with the support of student and consumer advocates, has proposed adding an earnings threshold to the gainful employment rule that would require any program funded with federal higher education grants and loans to show an earnings premium relative to a high school education. The threshold is critical because no one enrolls in a career training program with the goal of making the same as – or even less than — they would with just a high school diploma. Currently, there is nothing to keep institutions from offering programs with these poor outcomes.