SALT LAKE CITY- (August 17, 2011) Utahns who earn a postsecondary degree or certificate earn more money, live happier lives and are a bigger benefit to their community, according to a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates and released today.
“The fact that those who obtain a level of education beyond high school make more money won’t surprise many,” said Mark Bouchard, senior managing director of CB Richard Ellis and chairman of Prosperity 2020. “What we see from the survey is that the benefits go well beyond the paycheck.”
“Over the course of their work life, students who receive a baccalaureate degree earn about $650,000 more than high school graduates—a significant increase over those who end their education right after high school,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Bill Sederburg. “The benefits of a college degree extend beyond monetary value too, as individuals with college degrees experience increased career opportunities, better health care benefits and overall a deeper quality of life. Degree holders are also more likely to have increased civic involvement and often donate more to local charities and volunteer their time in the community.”
Prosperity 2020 commissioned the survey of 1,200 Utahns, and results were presented to the Higher Education Subcommittee of the Utah State Legislature today. The results show the mean individual income level (total individual compensation) is 75 percent higher among those who hold a postsecondary degree or certification than those without. They are also more than two-and-a-half times more likely to work in salaried positions rather than hourly jobs.
“Utah is an attractive place for technology companies which are creating thousands of high-paying jobs but experiencing shortages in a qualified workforce to fill those jobs,” said Richard R. Nelson, founder and CEO of the Utah Technology Council. “We need to increase the number of students entering STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in order to meet the needs and attract new businesses.”
Nationwide, Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree have weathered the economic storm over the past few years far better than those who have not earned a four-year degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in July 2011, the unemployment rate for those with at least a bachelor’s degree was only 4.3 percent, compared to 15 percent for those who have not finished high school, 9.3 percent for those who have only a high school diploma but no secondary education.
Then national rate is reflected in the Beehive State. The survey shows postsecondary education has an impact on unemployment, as well. Nearly one quarter of those without a postsecondary degree or certificate have experienced more than two years of total post-high school unemployment, compared to just nine percent of those with a degree or certificate.
“As the marketplace becomes more competitive, employers are becoming increasingly more selective in their hiring practices,” said Andrea Moss, president and CEO of American Express Centurion Bank. “Businesses will continue to hire the best qualified employees and education is a crucial distinguishing factor. Never in Utah’s history has the need for an education been more important. This is a trend that is not going to reverse.”
Across the board those with a postsecondary degree or certificate believe that the education they received has more of a positive contribution in a number of key factors related to their lives and families than those without a degree or certificate.
Postsecondary degree or certificate holders are more likely to report personal happiness, to have what they consider to be great relationships, to characterize themselves as having good families, and to be in good health, than those without the same level of education.
“Money doesn’t buy happiness but there is a clear connection between the level of education an individual achieves and the level of happiness he or she has in life,” said Gordy Haycock, managing partner for the Salt Lake City office of Grant Thornton. “Ultimately, prosperity is a measurement of quality of life and that’s why the Prosperity 2020 movement is so crucial to our community.”
The survey data also demonstrate the ripple effect of educational achievement within a family unit. A child with two parents who did not earn a postsecondary degree or certificate has a 27.8 percent chance of earning either a degree or certificate. If one parent has earned a degree or certificate, that number rises to 41.8 percent and to 55.2 percent—essentially double—if they have a sibling but not a parent with a degree or certificate. Students from families with both parents and at least one sibling holding a degree or certificate achieve the same level of education at nearly an 80 percent rate.
Rates of household utilization of government assistance programs are much higher among individuals without a degree or certificate. Specifically, rates of participation in Medicaid and food assistance programs are higher among those who did not complete a degree or certificate.
Individuals without a degree or certificate are more than twice as likely to have utilized Medicaid, WIC, and CHIP in the last five years, and over three times as likely to have utilized food stamps.
“Investment in higher education pays dividends for the entire community,” said Ron Jibson, president and CEO, Questar Corporation. “Increasing the number of Utahns with postsecondary degrees or certificates will reduce the demand on state programs and create a more productive society.”
The survey also indicates Postsecondary degree or certificate holders voted in the most recent state election at a rate 50 percent higher than those without a degree or certificate.