Sorry Marco Rubio, philosophers make more than welders

Marco Rubio explained in under 90 seconds
Marco Rubio explained in under 90 seconds

Marco Rubio is getting a lot of buzz for his latest debate performance. Some even call him the winner. But he got one point wrong.

"Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers," the Florida senator said.

Not true, according to U.S. government data.

The Labor Department tracks salaries for 800 jobs. Here's what it says:

Median wage for welders: $37,420

Median wage for philosophy professors: $63,630

The winner on pay is clear.

Even college graduates who study philosophy and don't become professors do pretty well for themselves. The median starting salary for someone with a philosophy degree is $39,700, according to PayScale. That raises to $78,300 by mid-career.

Philosophy actually ranked in the top 45 "majors that pay you back" out of 129.

Related: America's cheap labor: Women

In the Fox Business debate, Rubio was likely trying to make a larger point about the country needing more laborers. In the past, he's proposed more vocational training and apprenticeships.

America has nearly 370,000 welders versus just 23,000 philosophy and religion professors.

Rubio is correct that the U.S. will need more welders in the coming years, but it may not be the best example.

Consider this: The Labor Department projects "slower than average" growth for welder jobs over the next decade.

Prospects look a lot better for college professors. The Labor Department forecasts "faster than average" growth in the next 10 years as more students enroll in universities.

That said, philosophy isn't exactly a booming department at many schools. One estimate found only about half of philosophy PhDs get jobs in their field because there aren't enough open positions.

Perhaps a better line would be the U.S. needs more professors -- in science, technology and economics.

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