A few decades ago, young people needed no more than a high school diploma to get a job with a solid middle-class salary. Today, such opportunities have become an anomaly, and a new study finds that young Americans without a college degree are more likely to be stuck in low-paying jobs into their 30s.

In fact, according to the words analysis from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. A good job, according to the study’s definition, is one with an average annual salary of $57,000 by age 30.

The findings come amid growing skepticism about the value of higher education, with a majority of Americans saying they don’t believe a college degree is worth what it costs. a recent survey from the Wall Street Journal and NORC. But without a college degree, young Americans are unlikely to find economic stability by age 30, a Georgetown analysis shows.

“It’s a whole different world”

“If you were a young man in the 1970s and your uncle worked at Chrysler and you were a boy, you didn’t even have to get a high school education, to be honest,” because those connections would help young people find good-paying jobs, he said. Anthony Carnevale, who directs the Georgetown Center and co-authored the study.

“It’s a completely different world,” he told CBS MoneyWatch. “The college premium has risen since 1983 and continues to do so.”

The college premium refers to the gap in earnings between people with a college degree and those without, with the typical college graduate earning about $78,000 in recent years, compared to $45,000 for the average worker with only a high school education . respectively to the Federal Reserve System of New York.

That’s not to say people without a college degree can’t get good jobs in their 30s, but they’re less likely to achieve that kind of financial security than younger people with bachelor’s degrees, the Georgetown analysis found.

The researchers based their analysis on results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 1997 National Extended Survey of Youth, a group of nearly 9,000 people born between 1980 and 1984 whose earnings and other outcomes were tracked in subsequent years.

“Very low” chances of getting a good job

A young person’s path in their early 20s can determine their economic fate well into their 30s, a study has found. According to the analysis, about 68% of college-educated young people under the age of 26 have a good job by age 30, compared to 25% of people with only a high school diploma.

Young adults who don’t attend college can have a range of outcomes depending on their occupations and education, suggesting that many could make changes that would put them on a better path to higher earnings, the analysis shows. These changes include changing jobs, getting a certificate, or going back to school for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

For example, young adults who do not attend college and work in low-wage jobs such as restaurants or health care at age 22 are the least likely to have a good job by age 30. Only about 14 % of these workers, the analysis showed, are likely to get a good job before the age of 30.

The researchers found that if one of these workers moves into a science-related field without a college degree, they have a 25% chance of landing a good job by age 30.

“In the absence of another path to change paths, another path to a new, good job, their chances of getting a good job are very low,” said Zach Mable, co-author of the report and a research professor at the Georgetown Center.

Failed to launch

Young people today face greater difficulties in establishing economic independence than previous generations, Carnevale noted. A college education can increase a person’s lifetime earnings, but it comes at a high cost because many graduates enter the workforce saddled with student loans.

“It used to be thought that by the age of 25, both sexes were able to achieve what economists said at the time was economic independence and readiness to start a family,” Carnevale noted. “It’s 32 now.”

College tuition has risen at a rate well ahead of inflation, prompting some backlash against higher education. Some education reforms are aimed at blurring the lines between high school, college, and other educational institutions, such as dual enrollment programs that allow high school students to take college classes and earn a degree.

However, such programs are not the norm, and switching to more learning or more lucrative fields is not always easy.

“At the end of the day, you need education, which means it’s going to take longer and cost a lot more money,” Carnevale noted. “It’s just tougher.”


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