Investor John Rogers: College Degrees Don’t Work For Black America, Cites Federal Reserve Study

Investor John Rogers: College Degrees Don’t Work For Black America, Cites Federal Reserve Study

Investor John Rogers says college degrees just don’t work for Black America. He cites a Federal Reserve study to prove his point. Photo: Ariel Investments Chairman and CEO John W. Rogers Jr. at the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, Nov. 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)/(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

College enrollment rates among 18-to-24-year-old Black students increased from 31 to 37 percent between 2000 and 2018, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

But college degrees don’t work for Black America, according to John Rogers, founder of $10 billion fund manager Ariel Investments.

Just look at a recent Federal Reserve study, Rogers said in an interview with The Brunswick Group.

When asked if a four-year college degree results in equal benefits for every race, Rogers said no. He referred to a paper published in 2015 by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that shows changes in median real net worth by education level. The study’s authors found that from 1992 through 2013, the median net worth of whites with four-year college degrees increased by 86 percent. But Blacks and Hispanics with four-year degrees saw no increase at all.                        

The study showed that the Black median net worth has decreased by 55 percent. While the incomes of college-educated whites increased 18 percent during that period, college-educated Black people saw their incomes drop by 12.1 percent.

A veteran fighter for racial equality, Rogers has worked to open up opportunities for Black executives in corporate America. He’s a board member of McDonald’s, Nike, and the New York Times.

If education doesn’t close the wealth gap, Rogers said there is great potential for corporations to nurture economic justice.

“Companies like McDonald’s and Exelon have demonstrated the tremendous influence that capitalism wields to help bring about economic equality,” Rogers told Bloomberg News. “The wealth gap in our country has gotten so much larger than we ever could have dreamed or anticipated 40 or 50 years ago.”

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He added, “Corporations talk a good game. But most of the time it’s just talk. The idea is economic fairness, economic justice, economic inclusion. Not just making donations — which is important. You can donate to a historically Black college, but then you want those students to graduate and have great careers, and build great businesses. And a lot of well-meaning companies don’t think about it like that.”