Clive Crook thinks it is. His piece on the Atlantic Monthly blog (entitled "The Dumbing of America") notes a study that shows that, "For the first time in decades, and probably ever, workers retiring from the US labor force will be better-educated on average (according to one measure anyway) than their much younger counterparts." He laments that this is likely to hurt American competitiveness, which has benefited from a surfeit of increasingly well-educated workers, particularly in the postwar era.
The study draws a policy implication from this data: that we need to do a better job of attracting well-educated immigrants. I happen to agree, but that's neither here nor there. Some of Crook's commenters take issue with the implicit assumption, which is that the ability to do skilled work correlates directly and almost exclusively with education (or, more precisely, educational attainment).
On some level, it's self-evidently true that you need a graduate-level education to work in many well-paid, specialized professions from law to medicine to engineering. But there are still plenty of value-creating activities that do not require, or even benefit from, a grad school degree. Many high-value skills can be learned on the job, or the productivity of less-educated workers supplemented by new technology. It's also true that many grad school programs are a waste of time, and produce little more than well-credentialed idiots. American competitivenss comes not only from having an educated workforce, but also from having good physical and social infrastructure, effective government, and transparent institutions. I guess I find the metric of advanced degrees a bit too coarse to measure something this important, especially when there are much more serious and obvious areas of decline to address.
But more fundamentally, in the age of the networks, collaboration technology and globalization, why is it still important to collocate brainpower within national borders? Brainpower goes to the highest bidder. What difference does it make if an American-owned company outsources R&D to India or South Korea, or if American born-and-bred biotech researchers wind up developing drugs for a Swiss-owned pharma company? The highly-educated class of workers is increasingly cosmopolitan. What matters is that the global supply of educated professionals meets the demand, not whether any one domestic workforce is producing more or less.