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(My own student debt, as it happens, was almost identical to this figure, in inflation-adjusted terms.) And the unemployment rate in April for people between 25 and 34 years old with a bachelor’s degree was a mere 3 percent.I find the data from the Economic Policy Institute especially telling because the institute — a left-leaning research group — makes a point of arguing that education is not the solution to all of the economy’s problems. College graduates, like almost everyone else, are suffering from the economy’s weak growth and from the disproportionate share of this growth flowing to the very richest households.Tellingly, though, the wage premium for people who have attended college without earning a bachelor’s degree — a group that includes community-college graduates — has not been rising.
In a similar vein, the new Economic Policy Institute numbers show that the benefits of college don’t go just to graduates of elite colleges, who typically go on to to earn graduate degrees.
The wage gap between people with only a bachelor’s degree and people without such a degree has also kept rising.
This calculation is necessarily imprecise, because it can’t control for any pre-existing differences between college graduates and nongraduates — differences that would exist regardless of schooling.
Yet other research, comparing otherwise similar people who did and did not graduate from college, has also found that education brings a huge return.
The anecdotes may be real, yet the conventional wisdom often exaggerates the problem.
Among four-year college graduates who took out loans, average debt is about ,000, a sum that is a tiny fraction of the economic benefits of college.The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else reached a record high last year, according to the new data, which is based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree.It’s the most reliable ticket to the middle class and beyond.Those who question the value of college tend to be those with the luxury of knowing their own children will be able to attend it.That the pay gap has nonetheless continued growing means that we’re still not producing enough of them.“We have too few college graduates,” says David Autor, an M. “We also have too few people who are prepared for college.”It’s important to emphasize these shortfalls because public discussion today — for which we in the news media deserve some responsibility — often focuses on the undeniable fact that a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee success. Nothing guarantees success, especially after 15 years of disappointing economic growth and rising inequality.When experts and journalists spend so much time talking about the limitations of education, they almost certainly are discouraging some teenagers from going to college and some adults from going back to earn degrees.A new set of income statistics answers those questions quite clearly: Yes, college is worth it, and it’s not even close.For all the struggles that many young college graduates face, a four-year degree has probably never been more valuable.That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s.The singer Jill Scott, who was being given an honorary doctorate, at graduation ceremonies at Temple University in Philadelphia this month.