HFC_facts_findsCalculate future debt burden

Student loan debt has more than tripled over the past decade, as both the number of borrowers and the size of the average balance have increased. Nearly three in four graduates today carry a sizeable debt along with their diplomas. For these borrowers, the typical balance is $26,500, according to the Hamilton Project, a research group based at the Brookings Institution.

The group built a debt repayment calculator based on an analysis of 80 college majors and post-graduation employment and wage trends. In general, over 10 years, the portion of a graduate’s paychecks needed for repayment starts high and falls quickly as earnings grow. In the first year after college, as much as a quarter of earnings can go to debt servicing. By the sixth year, the Hamilton Project found repayment swallowed up between four and 11 percent of income.

Curious about the average loan repayment in your line of work? See for yourself: Hamiltonproject.org/student_loan_calculator/

Where the jobs are now

Skills in computer technology, medicine, and manufacturing will never go out of style.

That’s what Michigan State University’s 2014 nationwide hiring survey indicates, with employers looking to scoop up approximately 120,000 new graduates in technical fields. Most in-demand are those with degrees in STEM programs – science, technology, engineering, and math.

“Employers are recruiting new college graduates at levels not seen since the dot-com frenzy of 1999-2000,” said Phil Gardner, director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute. “Competition for qualified candidates is escalating to a degree rarely seen in the past 10 years.”

A separate study by Economic Modeling Specialists International, a division of job site CareerBuilder, confirms the findings, projecting the creation of 1.8 million new high-skill jobs by 2017. STEM jobs account for 38 percent of the new jobs, and are typically the highest paying across all industries.

The Michigan State survey finds six sectors of industry expect double-digit hiring for bachelor degree holders: non-profits, manufacturing, government, professional services, finance and insurance, and information services all anticipate hiring increases of between 16 and 51 percent.

Staying motivated, Lego-style

Keeping up your motivation in day-to-day tasks can be a challenge, especially if your work has little visible results. Author and Duke University Professor Dan Ariely says people are more willing to perform menial tasks when they feel their work is meaningful or they are recognized for their efforts.

In an experiment, Ariely and his collaborators at the Duke School of Business asked students to assemble figurines made out of Lego blocks. For half of the students, Ariely made the work “meaningful” by having their completed work displayed in their assembly area. “Even though this may not have been especially meaningful work, the students felt productive seeing all of those Bionicles lined up on the desk, and they kept on building them even when the pay was rather low,” Ariely said.

The other half of the students were told to assemble their Lego figures, hand them off to a supervisor, who disassembled them in front of the students and put the blocks right back into a box. Needless to say, this group of students experienced a plummeting sense of motivation in their work.

The take-away? “Meaning, even a very small meaning, can matter a lot,” comments Ariely. Students who could see their work built an average of 10.2 figurines, while those whose work was immediately taken apart assembled an average of 7.2.

In our own lives, work and chores can be frustrating because the fruits of our labors disappear so quickly – sometimes right before our eyes like the Lego figurines. Tess Wilson, writer for the home design site Apartmenttherapy.com, suggests adding something more tangible to your rotation of chores. While your sink full of dishes may never be done, something as simple as regularly arranging a vase of flowers can give you a psychological satisfaction to boost your motivation for completing your other chores.

Sources: “Man’s Search for Meaning: The Case of Legos,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2008; Apartmenttherapy.com/the-lego-principle-why-housework-can-be-so-darn-frustrating-213102

“Even a monkey could do that job!”

Do you think you could do your boss’s job? You’re in the majority. An international poll conducted in November 2014 by job networking site Monster.com found that nearly nine out of 10 employees surveyed believed they could outperform their managers.

In the United States, a whopping 84 percent thought they could do better than their bosses!