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Wondering if it pays to stay in school? Here’s one reason to continue: workers’ earnings increase as educational attainment rises, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In 2022, for example, workers age 25 and over without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $682. Workers whose highest level of education was a diploma made $853 per week, or just over 25 percent more than those who didn’t finish high school—and earnings improved with every level of education completed. (See chart.)
If that’s not a compelling enough reason to stay in school, here’s another: BLS data also show that more education means less unemployment. In 2022, people without a diploma had the highest unemployment rate (5.5 percent) among those at all education levels, with unemployment rates decreasing as education increased. (Toggle between legend items to see unemployment rates.)
Individual experiences differ, depending on factors such as your occupation or field of degree. But each level of education you complete may help you develop the skills to qualify for higher paying jobs. And educational credentials can signal to employers that you’re able to plan ahead, meet deadlines, and follow through on other important tasks.
These data are from the BLS Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of households that collects information about demographic and labor force characteristics. Learn more about career options, including the education typically required to enter an occupation, by visiting the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
"Education pays, 2022," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023.