Variation in earnings of college grads

October 25, 1999

There is much variation in the weekly earnings of college graduates. In the last quarter, 10 percent of college graduates earned less than half of the median amount for those with a college degree. Another 10 percent earned more than twice the median amount.

Usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, college graduates, upper limits of quartiles and selected deciles, third quarter 1999 averages
[Chart data—TXT]

The usual median weekly earnings of college graduates were $867 in the three-month period from July to September 1999. College graduates in the first decile in earnings—the lowest 10 percent—earned less than $428 per week. This was just under half of the median level.

Workers with a college degree who were in the tenth decile—the highest 10 percent—earned $1,749 per week or more. This was just over twice the median level of earnings of college graduates.

Data on weekly earnings are from the Current Population Survey. Earnings figures are for full-time wage and salary workers. The term "college graduates" includes those with an advanced degree as well as those with a bachelor’s degree only. Find more information on earnings in "Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers: Third Quarter 1999," news release USDL 99-301. Note that deciles divide the dataset into 10 equal-size groups and quartiles divide the dataset into 4 equal-size groups.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Variation in earnings of college grads on the Internet at (visited September 25, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.