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Earnings growth driven primarily by workers with college degree, University of Oklahoma researchers find

A new University of Oklahoma study released Friday has found that U.S. earnings growth in the United States has been primarily driven by workers with at least a bachelor’s degree.
by Brianna Bailey Modified: March 21, 2014 at 9:00 am •  Published: March 20, 2014
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A new study from the University of Oklahoma released Friday has found that employment and earnings growth in the United States over the past 13 years has been almost exclusively driven by workers with at least a bachelor’s degree.

The study found that from 2000 to 2013, real earnings in the United States grew by about $1 trillion among workers with at least some college education, with about 93.1 percent of that earnings growth coming from workers with at least a bachelor’s degree.

“What really surprised me is how much more they are earning — the differences are dramatic and striking,” said study author Robert Dauffenbach, associate dean and director for the Center for Economic Management Research at OU’s Price College of Business.

Also from 2000 to 2013, real earnings fell by about $250 billion for high school graduates and people without high school diplomas, resulting in a net $750 billion real earnings gain to the overall economy.

The study found that Oklahoma lags significantly behind the rest of the nation in the percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree at 23.8 percent, compared with the national average of 28.6 percent.

The study calls for public policy makers to pay closer attention to the importance of higher education for economic development as states compete for jobs and employers, Dauffenbach said.

“I think the ability of states to have a college-educated, knowledge-based workforce is going to be one of the principal foci of economic development,” Dauffenbach said.

by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Univerisity of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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