Benefits of more education

Date posted: June 25, 2012

The rising cost of higher education has renewed interest in the value of that education for the student. What do the latest data show?

“Well …, even though we know that a lot of college graduates are having trouble getting a job — the job market for college grads certainly isn’t as good as it was before the recession — still on virtually every measure where you’re comparing the job situation and the labor market for college grads versus non college grads, it’s much better for college grads. And let me tick off some of that:

“The earnings for college grads, yes, they have fallen over the last decade. But they’ve actually fallen more for workers without a college degree.

“The unemployment rate for college grads, yes, it’s gone up during the recession, but it’s gone up a lot more for those without a college degree.

“And the expected lifetime earnings of a college grad, when you bring those back into what economists call present value dollars is still a half million dollars more than it would be if that person had not gotten a college degree and simply stayed as a high school grad.

“So all those indicators suggest that still it’s better to have a college degree than not to have a college degree in terms of the labor market.

“Now there’s one aspect of having a college degree that you could consider to be a negative, and that is if you look at the variability of earnings of college grads, that variability is much wider than it is for those people who simply have a high school diploma.”

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