Oregon economist examines occupations, wages and education; postsecondary education pays off

While our focus is Washington, we pay attention to research and analysis from around the country, with particular interest in what’s happening in neighboring states. The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis routinely produces some valuable work. As we’ve written often, employees with postsecondary credentials or some college will fill most of the great new jobs opening up in our state. Last week we pointed to recent research from Georgetown University confirming the new reality.

Back to Oregon. Josh Lehner, senior economist at the Office of Economic Analysis, looks at the relationships among education attainment, wages and occupations.

…the correlation between education and pay is strong. The surest path toward a high-wage job in today’s economy is a college degree, and in some cases a graduate degree. That said, it is important to point out that certificate programs, apprenticeships and the like also further individuals’ skills.

He makes the point in a series of graphs; we commend the brief blog post to your attention. 

In our 2017 foundation report, we wrote,

Postsecondary education pays off for individuals. In 2015, median annual earnings for a full-time worker with a bachelor’s degree were 66 percent higher than those of a worker with only a high school diploma.

The implications of increasing postsecondary attainment for society are also dramatic. BCG estimates that in a typical high school cohort of 81,000 students, 70 percent postsecondary attainment means 31,000 more students will earn a credential each year. Each will earn nearly $1 million more over his or her lifetime. Collectively, their success will reduce unemployment by a third and poverty by nearly half, saving our state billions of dollars a year in social spending.

The benefits of improving educational attainment are clear and uncontested. Postsecondary education and training lead to rewarding career opportunities.