Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its bulletin on employment status and educational attainment. The entire report can be summed up in a single statement: The more you have, the more you get, and the lower the likelihood that you’ll be unemployed. This is not news. It’s another affirmation of knowledge that has stood the test of time.
Teachers and school counselors have relayed this information to millions of students over many decades, and the facts simply don’t change. The more education one has, the higher the income, on average. Although this generalization holds true for millions of people age 25 and older, some folks are quick to point to the exceptions, like the college dropout who forms his own computer-related company and becomes a billionaire. While cases like this do occur, we can usually count them on the fingers of our two hands. Also, we don’t hear about the companies that fail. To put it in its simplest terms, the odds of such success are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery.
Data from the BLS report show that workers who have less than a high school diploma earn $451 per week and have an unemployment rate of 14.1 percent, close to double the national average. But, if these workers did nothing other than complete high school, the weekly earnings increase to $638 and the unemployment rate drops to 9.4 percent. These figures, by the way, are for full-time wage and salary workers.
There are slight incremental changes for the next two levels. Workers who have earned some college credit but have not achieved a degree took home $719 a week and had an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent. However, if workers complete an associate degree (usually a two-year program), income increases to $768 weekly and unemployment drops below the national average to 6.8 percent...