The latest community college enrollment numbers may hold a clue to what’s happening in the Northwest’s economy. Some two-year institutions in the region are seeing the first decline in class registration since the recession.
At the bookstore at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, the piles of textbooks students buy are kind of like a bar graph for the local unemployment rate.
And during the recession those stacks got pretty high as laid off workers streamed in seeking retraining. But this fall, community relations head Mark Browning predicts enrollment will actually go down a couple percentage points.
“By us leveling off, it’s an indicator for us economically that the regional economy, the local economy is getting a little better," he says.
Community colleges around the region are seeing a similar trend. In Washington state, it started this past academic year, with an average 6 percent drop at state community and technical colleges. Oregon’s two-year schools continue to grow, but at a much slower rate than before.
It’s a welcome change for many administrators, who say state funding has not gone up with the demand for classes.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network