New Report Makes Economic Case for Higher Education

June 22, 2012

A new report released by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Education examines the significance of higher education as “an important driver of economic mobility” that is vital to economic growth and competitiveness. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report found that in 2011, median weekly earnings were 64 percent higher for a full-time, full-year bachelor’s degree holder than they were for a high-school graduate. The report also found that state and local funding for public four-year institutions of higher education has declined from almost 60 percent of their revenue in the late 1980s to slightly below 40 percent in recent years.

The economic returns for higher education are significant and have increased dramatically in recent decades. Key findings of the report include:

  • The median weekly earnings for a full-time, full-year bachelor’s degree holder in 2011 was 64% higher than those for a high school graduate ($1,053 compared to $638).
  • Today’s earnings gap is the highest it has been since 1915, the earliest year for which there are estimates.
  • Without a degree, children born to parents in the lowest income bracket have a 45% chance of remaining there as adults, but with a degree, their chances drop to less than 20%.

Click here to read the report in its entirety.