Data on display
Education pays

| February 2019

Note: Data have been updated for 2018. The original post is here.

It’s hard to quantify the full value of an education. But U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data consistently show that, in terms of dollars, education makes sense.

As the chart shows, the more you learn, the more you earn. Median weekly earnings in 2018 for those with the highest levels of educational attainment—doctoral and professional degrees—were more than triple those with the lowest level, less than a high school diploma. And workers with at least a bachelor’s degree earned more than the $932 median weekly earnings for all workers.

Click the chart legend to see a second chart showing unemployment rates by educational attainment. As that chart shows, the higher the level of education, the lower the unemployment rate. Compare unemployment by education level in 2018 with the overall unemployment rate of 3.2 percent.

Data in the chart indicate how weekly earnings and rates of unemployment vary by educational attainment for workers ages 25 and older at a broad level. Individual experiences differ, however, depending on factors such as your field of degree and your occupation.

These data are from the BLS Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of households that collects information about demographic and labor force characteristics.

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov.

Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Education pays," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2019.

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