US College Degrees Increasing In Value

Career College Central summary:

  • Analysis by the Pew Research Center shows the increasing economic difficulties for young adults who lack a bachelor’s degree in today’s economy that is polarized between high- and low-wage work. As a whole, high school graduates were more likely to live in poverty and be dissatisfied with their jobs, if not unemployed.
  • The earnings gap between young adults with and without bachelor’s degrees has stretched to its widest level in nearly half a century. It is a sign of the growing value of a college education despite rising tuition costs, according to an analysis of census data released earlier this week. Young adults with a high school diploma earned 62 percent of the typical salary of college graduates.  That is down from 81 percent in 1965, the earliest year for which comparable data are available.
  • Roughly nine in 10 college graduates ages 25 to 32 said that their bachelor’s degree had paid off or will pay off in the future, according to Pew’s separate polling conducted last year. Even among the two-thirds of young adults who borrowed money for college, about 86 percent said their degrees have been, or will be, worth it.
  • The latest findings come amid rising college tuition costs, which have saddled young adults in the so-called millennial generation with heavy debt amid high unemployment. Noting the increasing importance of a college education, President Obama and Republicans such as Senator Marco Rubio of Florida have pushed proposals to make higher education more affordable as a way to promote upward mobility and bolster America’s shrinking middle class.
  • The report found that not only does a college degree typically yield much more inflation-adjusted earnings than before, but a high school diploma also is now worth less. That adds to a widening earnings gap that Pew researchers found mirrors the US gap between rich and poor.

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