Wages Rising or Falling? It All Comes Down to One Thing

One of the key measures of economic performance and the well-being of individuals in the workforce is the question of whether average wages, over time, are rising or falling.

Ask that question of the American economy, and the answer is, “yes.”

That’s because wages are both rising and falling, depending on one key factor: a college degree.

Researchers from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project have found that adults aged 20 to 45 who worked at least 750 hours a year are making less today (adjusted for inflation) than they were in 1990.

Meanwhile, for those in that same demographic group with one exception—they have some form of higher education—average wages went up during that same period.

Inflation-adjusted wages fell by 13% for men and 12% for women with just a high school diploma during the study period:

  • For men with a bachelor’s degree, wages went up by 7% (from $63,100 to $67,200.
  • For women, the increase was 16% (from $41,400 to $47,900)..
  • An advanced degree meant even more for wages:
  • A 13% increase for men (from $76,800 to $86,600)..
  • A 21% increase for women (from $50,400 to $61,000)..

Is there any good news for those in the workforce without a college degree? Yes, there is!

Because today, more than at any time in history, technology and new learning models are making it possible to earn an affordable, competency-based bachelor’s or master’s degree online, on your own time—without having to quit your job, change your work schedule, relocate, commit to classroom schedules or prescribed semester-long syllabi, or slack on your obligations to family, community, church, and other extra-curricular activities.

Skeptical? Here are a few ways to ask about the experiences of current students and alumni in the same boat who are making it work—or who already have—with an accredited online degree program from WGU:

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