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What are the prospects for high school grads?

The EPI article Class of 2018 High school edition by Elise Gould, Zane Mokhiber, & Julia Wolfe (6/14/18) provides a thorough review.  Figure I from the report, copied here, shows 2000 and 2018 wages for high school grads not enrolled in further schooling by race and gender.

In 2018, young workers with a high school diploma have an average hourly wage of $11.85, which translates to annual earnings of around $24,600 for a full-time, full-year worker. This overall average masks important differences in wages by gender and race.

The report has 11 graphs each with data that can be downloaded along with the graph.  A few points from the article:

  • Only 32% of 18-64 have a four year degree or more while 10.5% haven’t graduated high school. (see figure A)
  • The percent of high school grads (18-21) that are employed and not enrolled has increased from 26% in 2010 to 31% in 2018. (see figure c)
  • Over much of the last three decades, wage growth for young high school graduates has been essentially flat. (see figure H)

The first paragraph of their conclusion:

While there may be many reasons someone might choose to enter the labor force after high school rather than attend college, college should at least be a viable option; a person’s economic resources should not be the determining factor in whether they get to go to college. But, as things stand, the prospect of staggering debt may discourage students from less wealthy families from enrolling in further education or prevent them from completing a degree.

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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