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.
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 http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/oct/wk4/art01.htm (visited November 29, 2015).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
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.
- A look at pay at the top, the bottom, and in between
The Spotlight examines how earnings and wages have changed over time and how they differ within a geographic area, industry, or occupation.