Income vs education – how to earn more and be more employed

Based on income data from 2022, there’s a strong positive correlation between education and earnings: As the level of educational attainment increases, the median usual weekly earnings also increase. For example, individuals with a doctoral degree earn a median of $2,083 weekly, which is significantly higher than those with less than a high school diploma, who earn a median of $682 weekly.

  • Inverse Relationship Between Education and Unemployment: There’s a clear negative correlation between the level of educational attainment and the unemployment rate. Those with higher levels of education have lower unemployment rates. For instance, individuals with a doctoral degree have an unemployment rate of just 1.0%, whereas those with less than a high school diploma face a higher unemployment rate of 5.5%.
  • Significant Earnings Gap Between Degree Levels: The jump in earnings between some levels of educational attainment is quite significant. For instance, the difference in median weekly earnings between those with a master’s degree ($1,661) and those with a bachelor’s degree ($1,432) is $229. This gap underscores the potential financial benefit of pursuing higher levels of education.
  • Minimal Earnings Difference at the Highest Educational Levels: Interestingly, the earnings difference between those with a doctoral degree ($2,083) and a professional degree ($2,080) is minimal, despite the significant time and often financial investment required for these degrees.
  • High Unemployment Rate for Those With Least Education: Individuals with less than a high school diploma face an unemployment rate of 5.5%, which is considerably higher than the total average unemployment rate of 3.0% for persons aged 25 and over.
  • Significant Unemployment Jump with No College Degree: The data indicates a notable increase in the unemployment rate for those who have attended some college but did not earn a degree (3.5%) compared to those with an associate’s degree (2.7%). This emphasizes the importance of completing a degree once one begins their tertiary education.

Above Average Earnings for Higher Education: When considering the total average weekly earnings for all groups ($1,123), individuals with an associate’s degree or higher all have above-average earnings.

In summary, this table illustrates the tangible benefits of higher education in terms of both earnings potential and employment stability in the U.S. in 2022. Investing in education seems to offer significant returns in the form of higher weekly earnings and lower chances of unemployment.