In response to the report written by Ed Frauenheim, "":
If the economy is the issue, then folks should be looking at the number of graduate students who start Ph.D.s but leave for jobs prior to finishing their programs. If the number is growing, then you have an excellent argument that it is because of the lure of the economy.
This is exactly what I did. I was on my way to an experimental psychology Ph.D. when I left for an excellent-paying job in the technology industry, essentially doing industrial-psychology work. Since then, many students from the same program have done the same. They are now all earning as much as they would with a Ph.D.--without needing to put in the long years to get one.
The pertinent question is how many folks drop out of such programs to take excellent jobs.