Saturday, January 5, 2013

Earnings Widen Between College and High School-Only Grads

Graduation (Photo credit: uonottingham)
by G. Scott Thomas, Nashville Business Journal:

College graduates now earn average of 85 percent more than those not attending college.

There is a clear correlation between a person's educational attainment and his or her earning power. And that link is growing stronger by the year, as shown by a series of U.S. Census Bureau reports since 1975:

• Adults with bachelor's degrees in the late 1970s earned 55 percent more than adults who had not advanced beyond high school. That gap grew to 75 percent by 1990 and is now at 85 percent.

• The margin is smaller, though still sizable, when adults with bachelor's degrees are compared to counterparts who hold advanced degrees. The latter earned 35 percent more during the late 1970s, a difference that has expanded to 45 percent today.

These disparities in earning power fluctuate from state to state, according to an analysis of newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey.

In Tennessee, for example, the median income for a worker with a bachelor's degree ($43,804) is 71 percent higher than for a worker with only a high school diploma ($25,540). The District of Columbia has the widest gap between adults whose highest educational achievement was a high school diplomas and those who received bachelor's degrees (D.C. is considered a state for statistical purposes).

The typical District of Columbia adult with a bachelor's degree earned $60,955 last year. That's 99 percent more than the median for residents who left class after picking up their high school diplomas, $30,579. Corresponding figures for all states can be found in the database below. Click any column header to re-sort the list. Click a second time to reverse the sort.

The gap between advanced college degrees and bachelor's degrees is broadest in Utah, 47 percent. The median earnings for Utah residents are $63,502 for those with graduate or professional degrees, compared to $43,160 for those who didn't advance beyond bachelor's degrees.

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