Given the relatively high rate of unemployment and the dismal job growth projections, how important is a college degree? From recent graduates new to the job market to 20-year veterans who find themselves recently unemployed, the scarcity of jobs has forced many professionals to accept positions that pay less and have a lower education requirement. This has prompted some people to question the value of pursuing a college education.
Just the Facts
Education still provides a competitive advantage. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that in 2011, individuals who did not have a high school diploma earned an average of $451 a week. However, those with a high school diploma averaged $638/week. Attending college without graduating netted $719/week. An Associates degree brought in $768/week.
With a Bachelor’s degree, the median income level jumped to $1,053/week. A master’s degree bumped the amount to $1,263/week. A professional degree produced the highest salary of $1,665/week. However, the average for individuals with a doctoral degree was $1,551/week, and while this was higher than the average for a master’s degree, it was lower than the average for a professional degree.
Higher education levels also produced a lower rate of unemployment in 2011 – at least up to the doctoral level. 14.1 percent of the unemployed had less than a high school diploma. 9.4 percent earned a high school diploma; 8.4 percent attended college but did not graduate; 6.8 percent had an associate’s degree. In addition, only 4.9 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree, 3.6 of those with a master’s degree, and 2.4 percent of those with a professional degree were unemployed. The unemployment rate for individuals with a doctoral degree was 2.5 percent.
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