Widespread unemployment among recent college graduates during, and following, the recession combined with climbing student-loan debt, has left many wondering whether or not a college education is a good or necessary investment after all.
In economic terms, the answer is still yes.
Though the cost of college is increasing, a variety of empirical evidence suggests that the earnings associated with a bachelor's degree still trump the debt that students incur in most cases. According to data from the New York Fed, college graduates earn 80 percent more than their peers who didn’t attend, or didn’t finish, undergrad—and they’re also less likely to wind up unemployed than those who didn't go to college.
Unemployment Rates by Degree and Experience Level
Researchers from Georgetown University delved further into the topic in a new study that looks at the wage advantage college grads have over those with only a high-school diploma, looking at earnings through various stages of employment, from just after graduation to decades into their careers. While unemployment rates for new grads and experienced workers alike have fluctuated throughout the recession and recovery, the earnings premium that college- and advanced-degree holders enjoy over their peers who didn’t attend college has remained relatively stable, and in some instances, grown, according to the report that was released this week.