The IFO outlined similar projections for the state’s working age population earlier this month, predicting that the working age cohort will decline by 0.5% in the near term and by 0.3% in the long term. The working age population already saw decreases of 0.1% annually from 2010 to 2020, according to IFO data.
“If labor force participation rates do not increase, then this trend will constrain economic and revenue growth in the future,” the IFO concluded in the November report.
The State System has embarked on a redesign since Greenstein took control in 2018. The redesign included a consolidation of six state-owned universities in the western and northeastern parts of the state. Greenstein said the move was vital to making sure PASSHE remained financially stable.
PASSHE leaders voted this fall to request a historic amount of funding from the state, asking lawmakers for a $550 million allocation, which is a $73 million increase from the system’s most recent budget.
Greenstein said the state’s shortage of credentialed workers, along with the exodus of working age Pennsylvanians to other states, is directly linked to education funding levels.
Pennsylvania currently ranks 48th out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. in the amount of state financial support per full-time student, according to Science and Engineering Indicators. Greenstein highlighted this data in his address on Monday and said the direction of the state, both in terms of higher education and economic growth, will come down to policy decisions at the state level.
“What becomes of this state and its ability to continue to compete regionally, nationally – it’s a policy choice. It’s a matter of investment,” he said. “This is not a question about funding schools. It’s about ensuring our economic competitiveness – social mobility.”
Justin Sweitzer is a reporter for City & State Pa., where this story first appeared.