Do College Graduates Make More Money?
Over the last few years, stories abound regarding college graduates unable to find work and crowding the unemployment lines. Perceptions may lead one to believe that the value of a college degree has become over rated and perhaps the time, effort, and expense of a college education are less desirable than in the past. However, Census Bureau statistics indicate that the wage gap between those with college degrees compared to those without has more than doubled in the last 30 years.
In 1977, the median wage for college grads was approximately 40% higher than the median wage for those who only completed high school. By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, that gap had jumped to nearly seventy percent. Over the past two decades, while growth has tempered slightly, it has nonetheless continued to increase. Today, the Census Bureau statistics reflect that median wages for the college graduate are 80% higher than for those who lack higher education.
There are, of course, other potential factors at play- the group of students who do not attend college could have other characteristics which result in lower wages. A growing number of employers, however, seem to use bachelor’s degrees to indicate a higher level of motivation and skill. Regardless of the area of study, the mere possession of a degree instills increased faith that the individual is more likely to perform. Advanced problem solving skills and improved thought processes are just two of the traits typically attributed to a college graduate.
Another circumstance contributing to the gap is the growth within the technology sector. Many of these jobs are simply not skills that can be learned in high school or with self training. At the same time, this niche also tends to produce many higher wage earners.
So albeit more sophisticated jobs resulting in higher pay or the existence of a perceived increased level of ambition, the college graduate still exercises a significant advantage in today’s workforce compared to the non-graduate.