Facts of the Month

Unemployment and Mean Earnings

Have you ever wondered what the relationship is between unemployment rates, wage earnings and a college degree? The figures below, taken from the Bureau of the Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics, show that there are lower unemployment rates and higher wage earnings for individuals with post-secondary degrees. For a quick comparison, look at unemployment rates and mean earnings for a high school graduate vs. a bachelor’s degree in the list below. 

Professional Degree:

  • Unemployment Rate in 2010: 2.4%
  • Mean Earnings in 2009: $146, 659

Doctorate Degree

  • Unemployment Rate in 2010: 1.9%
  • Mean Earnings in 2009: $116, 305

Master’s Degree

  • Unemployment Rate in 2010: 4.0%
  • Mean Earnings in 2009: $87,913

Bachelor’s Degree

  • Unemployment Rate in 2010: 5.4%
  • Mean Earnings in 2009: $68,812

Associate Degree

  • Unemployment Rate in 2010: 7.05
  • Mean Earnings in 2009: $49,835

High School Graduate

  • Unemployment Rate in 2010: 10.3%
  • Mean Earnings in 2009: $39,937

Data provided by Postsecondary Education Opportunity, 2012



Publication Date: January 2012

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