WASHINGTON (AP) — The earnings gap between young adults with and without bachelor’s degrees is stretched to its widest level in nearly half a century. It’s a sign of the growing value of a college education despite rising tuition costs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.
Young adults with just a high school diploma earned 62 percent of the typical salary of college graduates. That’s down from 81 percent in 1965, the earliest year for which comparable data are available.
The analysis by the Pew Research Center shows the increasing economic difficulties for young adults who lack a bachelor’s degree in today’s economy polarized between high- and low-wage work. As a whole, high school grads were more likely to live in poverty and be dissatisfied with their jobs, if not unemployed.
In contrast, roughly nine in 10 college graduates ages 25 to 32 said their bachelor’s degree had paid off or will pay off in the future, according to Pew’s separate polling conducted last year. Even among the two-thirds of young adults who borrowed money for college, about 86 percent said their degrees have been, or will be, worth it.
“In today’s knowledge-based economy, the only thing more expensive than getting a college education is not getting one,” said Paul Taylor, Pew’s executive vice president and co-author of the report.