EPI's weekly illustration of education data trends — April 7, 2016

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Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old, by educational attainment: 1995 to 2013


The graphic below buttresses our knowledge of the power of higher education. The median income for full-time, year-round earners between the ages of 25 and 34 years of age was $40,000 in 2013. Those with a BA ($48,530) or Master's ($59,570) degree earned signfiicantly more than the median value, while those with high school ($30,000) or less ($23,940) earned significantly less. Since 1995, the change in earnings by education stayed relatively stable with some nominal changes.

It is important to note that these indicators do not explain all of the income gaps by education status. Higher education certainly provides the most viable and consistent pathway to higher-pay jobs, but also ingrained is the issue of social class and other preferential issues that relate to affluence. That is, the education level of an individual is directly correlated with both family income and generational access to higher education. That is, those with a higher education are typically riding on a series of prior advantages in society that predetermine, to a point, a higher income. Alternatively, if everyone was to get a master's or higher degree, the same outcomes as exhibited below would not occur for all due to the impingement of other factors that impact earnings, including generational issues (e.g., first gen versus multi-gen) and the type of college attended.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), March 1996 through March 2014. (http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_502.30.asp).