What is it?
Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education completed and is represented by the highest degree or the highest level of schooling completed for the population 25 years and over.
Why is it important?
A number of studies have documented a strong relationship between greater educational attainment and higher overall earnings. Furthermore, this relationship has persisted across gender and race/ethnicity. In addition to financial benefits, individuals with higher educational achievements generally experience lower levels of unemployment, lower rates of poverty, lower rates of tobacco use and are at less risk of becoming a victim of property crime (SAMHSA, 2002, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).
How are we doing?
According to the 2006-08 American Community Surveys, approximately 88% of Pinellas County’s population 25 years and over has a high school diploma or better. This percentage is above the average for the U.S., Florida and other Florida counties that are comparable in size to Pinellas.
When viewed by race, more than one-fifth of Pinellas’ minority population (black and non-white Hispanic) age 25 and over had less than a high school diploma, more than twice as high as white non-Hispanics.
- The percentage of high school graduates for Pinellas’ minority population is similar to that of white non-Hispanics. However, the proportion of minorities achieving a bachelor’s degree or higher lags behind white non-Hispanics.
Median Annual Earnings Comparison
A major benefit of higher educational attainment is the potential for greater overall earnings. The following graphic shows the median annual earnings of all U.S. workers 25 years and older by educational attainment during the 2006-08 period. Individuals who did not graduate high school earned 42% below the overall median annual average of $34,423. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree earned 2.4 times the annual average of individuals with less than a high school diploma.
Median Annual Earnings of U.S. Workers 25 Years & Older by Educational Attainment: 2006-08 Average
Poverty and Educational Attainment
Failure to graduate high school is likely to have a profound impact on the probability that an individual will experience some form of poverty during their lifetime. As shown in the chart below, individuals who do not graduate high school have twice the poverty rate of individuals who graduated high school and almost six times the poverty rate of those who receive a bachelor’s degree.
Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey (2009). Criminal Victimization 2008. United States Department of Justice: Washington, D.C.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Office of Applied Studies. (2002). National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Tobacco Use, Income and Educational Level. United States Department of Health and Human Services: Washington, D.C.
Read More About It:
See the report: http://nces.ed.gov/naal/estimates/index.aspx
Educational Attainment in the United States - 2007: http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p20-560.pdf