Earnings Still Higher for College Grads

Based on a Hamilton Project study from 2011, the chart above shows that even in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, those with some form of education after high school were still experiencing higher earnings and lower unemployment than those with just a high school diploma or less.

According to Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney:

Those with a college degree are in significantly better shape than their peers, with 88 percent of college graduates employed in 2010. And, in addition to having a better chance of finding a job, they are making more money. The average weekly earnings of those with a college degree was almost double the earnings of those with only a high school diploma, at $581 versus $305.

Young adults with some college had an average employment rate of 79 percent. Those with only a high school diploma had a much lower employment rate of 64 percent. Young adults without even a high school diploma fared far worse—only 43 percent were working.

It’s also worth noting here that earnings for those with some education after high school tend to increase with time, so the earnings premium illustrated in the chart will only widen as workers gain more experience.

The takeaway here is that everyone should seriously consider getting some kind of additional education after high school. More education opens the door to higher earnings and more job security down the road.

And although many think college is out of reach for financial reasons, there are plenty of financial aid options available to make it affordable for even the tightest of budgets.

Read more: How Do Recent College Grads Really Stack Up?