ABOR report says Arizona grads earn 22K more than high school grads
University of Arizona Graduates pose before the 153rd Annual UA Commencement on May 12. The Arizona Board of Regents issued a report detailing how much more a college graduate stands to make during their career when compared to an average high school graduate.
The Arizona Board of Regents released a recent report comparing the wages of college graduates and high school graduates in the state of Arizona. According to ABOR, a college graduate earns about $22,000 more than an individual with only a high school diploma.
The survey was taken at the three public universities in Arizona: University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.
The gap is continuing to widen. In 2007, students with undergraduate degrees earned 70 percent more in median wages than high school graduates. In 2015, that gap had increased to 82 percent.
Dan Anderson, director of institutional analysis for the board, said the reason the report wasn’t done sooner was simply because of a lack of information. In order to complete the annual report, social security numbers were needed.
“The coverage of students who graduated is not high enough quality," Anderson said. "There’s no other reason. In 1990, it was a lack of data.”
The report states that UA undergraduates made approximately $3,000 less in median wages than the other two Arizona universities’ undergraduates. However, UA students with graduate degrees made approximately $2,000 more than the other two Arizona universities’ graduate students.
These statistics may not be as alarming for UA students as they seem.
“In general, wages are higher in the Phoenix metropolitan area than in Tucson," said Julie Newberg, director of communications for the board. "And in general, wages in the Tucson metropolitan area are higher than in the rural counties of Arizona, so where a student looks for employment has an impact on earnings.”
The variation between the wages of students from the UA and the other two Arizona universities is caused more by the location of work than the university the student graduated from.
So why is the number between graduates and high school graduates so different? Anderson explained that for many jobs in today’s world, a college degree is required.
"Independence in positions require more than a high school education, and [they also require] good communication skills, those kind of qualities you get in college students," Anderson said. "Employers pay for productivity and higher efficiency for the wages they give out."
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This report also includes information on employment rates of graduates and undergraduates from the Arizona universities. The report states: "For resident undergraduates, nearly 75 percent are employed following graduation. ... For resident graduate students, over 72 percent are employed following graduation.”
While the increased earnings are already an encouragement to attend and graduate from an Arizona university, a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report estimates that by 2020, 68 percent of all jobs in Arizona will require some form of post-secondary education.
Veterinary science senior Cindy Chon gave an inside perspective on why she believes she wouldn’t be able to accomplish her occupation with only a high school education:
“In most high schools, I feel like they don’t offer programs or classes involving veterinary science and a lot of different fields," she said. "So you get a lot more specific for what you want to do instead of this broad education that you get in high school, and I think that really does make a difference in the job you want to do.”
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