What are the benefits of earning a college degree? Find out!

An Overview of Unemployment Rates

Choosing a College MajorAccording to the National Center for Education Statistics as of 2008, following the global recession of 2007, approximately 65 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 years worked full-time for one year or longer.  However, employment numbers for college students was higher than it was for adults between 25 and 34 years old who didn’t have some college learning.  In fact, 72 percent of young adults who had attended college or university were employed full-time as of 2008 compared to 62 percent of young adults who only had a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED). 

Additionally, across gender and ethnic demographics (e.g. Black, White, Hispanic, Asian) young adults who had attended college earned higher median wages than workers who didn’t have a postsecondary education.  This trend has held steady since 1980.  For example, in 1980 women who only had a high school diploma earned $28,700 a year, while women who had at least a college bachelor’s degree earned a median annual income of $38,800 a year.  As of 2005, women with a four-year college degree or higher earned approximately $44,100 a year, while their counterparts with only a high school diploma or a GED took home approximately $26,500 a year. 

For men who had at least a college bachelor’s degree the median annual income earned was $52,300 as of 2008.  Without a college degree men earned $44,200 at jobs they worked as of 2008.  By 2005, the difference between the annual wages male college graduates earned versus their counterparts who only had a high school diploma or a GED showed that male college graduates earned approximately $55,100 a year, while men who only had a high school diploma or equivalency diploma earned $33,100 a year, more than $20,000 less than men with a college or university degree.

The Benefits of Your Degree

By 2008, the variance between annual incomes earned by college graduates and young adults who hadn’t completed college undergraduate degree courses continued to hover around $20,000 a year or more.  For example, women college graduates earned $45,000 as of 2008; women who didn’t have college degrees earned $25,000 a year.  For men, the numbers varied by as much as $23,000 a year with male college graduates taking home approximately $55,000 a year and men who didn’t have college degrees earning $32,000 a year.

Unemployment rates for college graduates and adults ages 25 years and up also differ.  Furthermore, the level of college education working adults possess impacts their unemployment rate and the amount of wages they earn.  The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2010 and regardless of gender and ethnic background that adults who didn’t have a high school diploma earned approximately $444 a week as of 2010; unemployment rate for this group was 14.9 percent.  Workers who had a high school diploma earned about $626 a week in 2010 and experienced an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent.  If workers attended college but didn’t get a degree they took home approximately $712 a week; unemployment rate for people in this category was 9.2 percent.  For American workers with Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees the difference in weekly wages was $767, $1,038 and $1,272 respectively.  Unemployment rates for these groups as of 2010 were 7.0, 5.4 and 4.0 percent respectively.  American workers who had a doctorate degree earned the highest weekly wages at $1,550 a week; the unemployment rate for this group was 1.9 percent as of 2010.

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