A Closer Look

The value of an education in today’s US economy

Even in today’s recovering economy, education has retained its high value and is still the strongest step you can take in your career.

Lower chances of unemployment

Between 2007 and 2012, the unemployment level of U.S. workers rose as the nation grappled with the recession and its aftermath. Yet some workers fared better than others. In 2007, the unemployment rate for workers age 25 and older with less than a high school was 7.6 percent but jumped to 11.3 percent by 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, workers with a high school diploma or equivalent had slightly better odds of employment with 4.5 percent unemployment in 2007 and 8.7 percent in 2012. Compare those figures to workers with some college or an associate degree, who were at 3.4 percent unemployment in 2007 and 6.5 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, workers who held a bachelor’s degree or higher experienced the lowest unemployment levels, with 2 percent in 2007 and 4.1 percent in 2012.

At first glance we see two important lessons: First, the recession had a profound effect on each group. Second, continuing education beyond high school has a positive effect on your likelihood of employment. Pair these lessons with recent CareerBuilder findings that 32 percent of employers are now hiring college graduates for positions that were historically held by high school graduates and you begin to understand the rising value of a degree.

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Higher earning power

Higher education not only improves your employment odds; it can also put you on a higher earning track and show a powerful financial return on your education investment. For example, the following BLS data breaks down the 2012 median weekly earnings for all workers 25 or older by educational attainment:

  • Professional: $1,735
  • Doctoral: $1,624
  • Master’s: $1,300
  • Bachelor’s: $1,066
  • Associate: $785
  • Some college, no degree: $727
  • High school diploma: $652
  • Less than high school diploma: $471

Those figures are even more telling when you learn the average weekly wage for all workers is $815.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at 

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via The value of an education in today’s economy | The Work Buzz.


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  1. Pingback: Canada / Men with high school by 1991 earned $206,000 more over 20 years than than those who didn’t, women $161,000 | Job Market Monitor - January 23, 2014

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