Widest earnings gap posted for college grads in 48 years

The earnings gap between young adults with and without bachelor’s degrees has stretched to its widest level in nearly half a century. It’s a sign of the growing value of a college education despite rising tuition costs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.

Young adults with just a high-school diploma earned 62 percent of the typical salary of college graduates. That’s down from 81 percent in 1965, the earliest year for which comparable data are available.

The 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’s 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.

In contrast, 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 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 U.S. gap between rich and poor.

For instance, college graduates ages 25 to 32 who were working full time now typically earn about $17,500 more annually than employed young adults with just a high school diploma ($45,500 vs. $28,000); those with a two-year degree or some college training earned $30,000. In 1965, before globalization and automation wiped out many middle-class jobs in areas such as manufacturing, the inflation-adjusted gap was just $7,449.

Other findings:

• Young employed college graduates are more likely than those with just a high school diploma or less to say their job is a career or stepping stone to a career. In contrast, those with just a high school diploma or less were three times more likely than college graduates to say their work is “just a job” to help them get by — 42 percent vs. 14 percent.

• The field of study in college does seem to matter. Those who studied science or engineering were most likely to say that their current job is “very closely” related to their college or graduate field of study, at 60 percent, compared to 43 percent for both liberal arts and business majors.

• About three-fourths of all college graduates say they regretted not doing more during school to better prepare themselves to find a job, such as getting more work experience, studying harder or looking for work sooner.

Short URL: http://www.jenningsdailynews.net/?p=25273

Posted by on Feb 12 2014. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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