Even Some College Means a Higher Paycheck

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jun. 3, 2013 12:00 am  

“The relative boom simply seemed the new normal,” the report said. “In addition, work was just beginning on what would be another economic driver in the state: fracking of the Fayetteville Shale.”

So there were plenty of jobs for people who just had a high school diploma or less. “Any deficiencies in skills a worker might have could quickly be made up on an actual jobsite,” the report said.

In 2006, more than a third of the sample, or 36.9 percent, stopped going to school after receiving their high school diplomas — or didn’t bother to complete high school at all. Another 31.3 percent stopped after attending some college but without completing a certificate or degree program, while the remaining 31.8 percent completed a certificate or degree in 2006.

But in the five years after 2006, the country experienced the Great Recession and its sluggish recovery.

“Could we have convinced a graduating senior in 2006 that if they did not continue their education their expected annual salary would be only $12,499 five years later?” the report asked.

Gibson told Arkansas Business that he would like the statistics to be turned into posters and placed in high school counselors’ offices. “So when kids come in to talk about their future, they can see what kind of wages they can expect for that future,” Gibson said.

In 2011, the difference in average wages between an Arkansan who got his bachelor’s degree in 2006 compared with someone who stopped after graduating from high school that year was $38,872 vs. $14,972.

High School Dropouts

The high school seniors who dropped out of school in 2006 were earning an average of $11,254 five years later. And those who didn’t complete the ninth grade were earning less than $7,000 annually.

But if a person received a GED diploma in 2006, the average wage was $15,620. That was slightly more than the $14,972 earned by the workers who had completed high school in 2006, but those who got GEDs in 2006 were, on average, 10 years older than those who graduated from high school. They had been in the workforce longer, which explained why they have a larger paycheck, the report said.

Still, “five years after their last education attainment, these Arkansas workers are making very low wages, and the prospects for a higher paying job given this level of educational achievement are very low,” the report said.

Holland said the point of the study was to look only at the wages made, not what industries the people went into. He said he hopes to expand the study later to include more information.



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