Higher education cuts unemployment rate in half, study says

Published: Friday, Dec. 14 2012 12:05 p.m. MST

In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, sudents work during their lunch break at California State University, Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif. According to a U.S. government study, higher education leads to lower unemployment.

Damian Dovarganes, AP

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The higher the education, the lower the unemployment rate, according to a study published by the United States Department of the Treasury and Department of Education this week.

Among those who graduate with a bachelor's degree, unemployment is 4.9 percent — about half the rate of those with only a high school diploma. Also, the income of those who have a four-year degree was about $1,000 a week, which is about two-thirds more than high school graduates.

Unemployment rate in 2011

"Even low-skill jobs require a higher education to do it," said Marty Carpenter, the spokesman for Prosperity 2020, a group focused on having 66 percent of Utah adults have a higher education by 2020. "Today's economy just simply requires an educated work force at all levels. Because the marketplace is so competitive you have to have people who have an education to compete in the economy."

But while the need for education has increased, so too has the cost. From 2000 to 2011, tuition for public universities increased 67 percent after adjusting for inflation. At the same time, state funding for individual students has decreased.

In 2009, local and state governments paid 40 cents of every dollar at public four-year schools. That was a drop from the 60 cents per dollar they paid in 1987. For students individually, funding declined from $10,726 to $8,655.

As education increases, so does the gap of salary and employment rates compared to those with high school-level education.

When a parent has a degree and sits economically in one of the three middle quintiles, the probability their child will attain a higher quintile by adulthood raises to 55 percent.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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