[Update: I now have a new post with more recent data from the 2009 report. It is available here: Education Pays: Income by Education Level (2009 Update).]
Education pays. The U.S. Census Bureau has released their annual results on Educational Attainment and it’s quite clear that the differences in income for those with different levels of education are significant. According to their press release:
Adults age 18 and older with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $51,554 in 2004, while those with a high school diploma earned $28,645, according to new tabulations released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Those without a high school diploma earned an average of $19,169.
Just comparing high school and college graduates, that makes for a difference in earnings of $22,909 per year. These numbers are based on “mean earnings” in 2004 for those 18 years old and over and they appear in Table 9. For the sake of comparison, the overall mean (regardless of educational level) is $37,899.
In terms of educational attainment in 2005, 85.2% of adults age 25+ have high school gradutes or higher, while 27.7% have a bachelor’s degree or higher (see Table 1a). The percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or more varies by gender. For men, 28.9% have it, while for women it is 26.5%.