Impact of Education on Earnings and Unemployment Rates in the USA
The earnings and unemployment rates in the USA are influenced by education, sex, race, and ethnicity (1). It is however known that education has a substantial impact on these rates. While training in the form of apprenticeships is a valid form of learning and does have an impact on these rates, education here refers to the highest level of education completed by an individual.
Educational attainment is categorized into; Less than a high school diploma, High school graduates but no college, Some college, no degree, Associate degree, and Bachelor’s degree. These levels have different earnings and rates of employment, and there is a pattern to be observed.
To correctly understand the impact of education in the USA, it is important to look at what the statistics say. According to the data on unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment, 2019 from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2):
Less than a high school diploma
A high school diploma is a basic U.S qualification given to students after 12 years of secondary school. Most employers require it because it shows a level of commitment and comprehension. This results in limited job opportunities for this category. It is therefore not surprising to see that this category has an unemployment rate as high as 5.4% (2). Their median weekly earnings are $592 which is less than half of what is earned by those with a Bachelor’s degree (2).
High school graduates but no college
Those that have been awarded a high school diploma have better prospects than those without one. The diploma signifies to employers a certain level of intellectual capability giving them more employment opportunities. The rate of unemployment in this category is 3.7% which is significantly lower than the less than high school diploma category (2). Their median weekly earning is also about $150 higher than those without a diploma (2).
Some college no degree
This category refers to people who have been previously enrolled in college but did not complete it. While they do have some college credits to their name, they did not receive any degree. The unemployment rate in this category is 3.3% with median weekly earnings of $833 (2).
An associate degree is a university degree that is usually awarded after two years. People in this category are more likely to have a job than those who did not complete college but their earnings are not significantly higher. They have an unemployment rate of 2.7% and median weekly earnings of $887 (2).
This category is for those who have completed college. Their median weekly earnings are considerably higher than those with associate degrees at $1248 and their unemployment rates are lower at 2.2% (2).
From the statistics presented, it is clear that there is a direct relationship between educational attainment and earnings, and unemployment rates. The higher the level of education an individual attains, the more likely an increase in earnings. There is also an observable decline in the unemployment rate as the higher the educational level.
Check the following reference articles to learn more about the eye-opening impact of education on jobs in the USA:
- bls.gov. 2021. Employment Projections. Retrieved 22 February 2021. URL
- bls.gov. 2021. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Retrieved 22 February 2021. URL
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