Education pays off when it comes to wages – Dallas Morning News

Education pays off when it comes to wagesEducation still pays off in the workplace.

Texans with college degrees earned nearly twice as much in 2011 (at least $ 50,441) as those with only a high school diploma ($ 26,008).

They also earned nearly triple the pay of those who never finished high school ($ 17,945), according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2011, the latest year available.

People in Texas with college or graduate degrees earned slightly more in 2011 than the average American with the same level of education, the data also showed. But Texans with high school diplomas or less earned less than the U.S. average that year.

Those numbers mirror other recent reports about the relationship between college majors, earnings, unemployment and occupations.

“I don’t think there’s any question if you look at the numbers that higher education leads to higher earnings,” said Paul Lingenfelter, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

A report issued by the association in December also found that earnings tend to grow with successive academic degrees for most people across the country. The report analyzed degrees and median income over five years through 2010.

Workers without a college degree also fared worse during the recent recession than those with a degree, according to a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Four of every five jobs lost in the recession were held by workers with no college education, the report found.

However, the census data for 2011 indicated that advanced degrees aren’t paying off as much as they once did.

While Texas workers at most educational levels saw their personal earnings increase from 2010 to 2011, those with postgraduate degrees saw a 9 percent decline.

Nationally, workers with postgraduate degrees saw their personal earnings decline 3 percent from 2010 to 2011.

But Lingenfelter cautioned that small samples over a one-year period are more likely to yield “noise than insight.”

The latest census data comes as college costs continue to rise and student debt is at a record high.

School bills rose about 4 percent this year, according to The College Board. It costs an average of $ 17,860 a year to attend a public four-year college, including room and board, for in-state students. Private schools cost $ 39,518 on average.

More than half of public four-year college students graduated in 2011 with debt — an average of $ 23,800, according to The College Board. At private schools, two-thirds of students graduated with $ 29,900 in average debt.

Saddled with debt, recent college graduates also struggle to find work amid a slow economic recovery.

In 2011, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates ages 20 to 29 was 12.6 percent, compared with a 22.9 percent rate for 18- and 19-year-olds and 8.9 percent for all workers.

Hiring, however, appears to be picking up in Texas with several big job fairs in the Dallas area since the start of the year. And employment has grown in most states, including Texas.

The Texas economy added 80,600 jobs in February — the most new jobs nationwide that month and the most jobs created in any month in state history. Overall, employment grew in 42 states in February.

Follow Sheryl Jean on Twitter at @SherylJeanDMN.

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