Higher Levels of Education = Better Employment Situation


By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

There’s an old adage that “to get a good job, you need a good education.”  When it comes to salary and unemployment levels, there are absolute and clear benefits that accrue as level of education increases.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2021, education correlated with higher earnings and lower unemployment rates.  According to their Current Population Survey, workers age 25 and over who attained less than a high school diploma had the lowest median weekly earnings ($626) while workers with graduate degrees earned the most.  The following chart shows that even between a professional degree ($1924/week in median weekly earnings) and a bachelor’s degree ($1,334), there is nearly a 45% difference in earnings.  

 BLS Earning and Unemployment

Higher levels of unemployment also occur with the lowest levels of education.  The next table shows the unemployment rate was 8.3% in 2021 for those with less than a high school diploma versus 1.5% for doctoral degree, 2.6% for master’s, and 3.5% for bachelor’s degree recipients.

BLS Earning and Unemployment

More information about this study, education requirements and pay for hundreds of different job fields is available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  For more information, visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook.