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Letter from the Editor

March 2018

The College Payoff

While going to college doesn’t guarantee career and financial success, higher education generally leads to better wages over the course of a lifetime.

Alessia Leibert’s cover story in this issue of Trends documents, among other things, the impact of a postsecondary education on earnings. The longer students stay in school earning college credits, the bigger the wage premium, even if they ultimately don’t graduate.

Gender, age, race, type of school attended, enrollment status and placement in remedial courses are all factors that figure into who graduates and who doesn’t. And picking the right major also can have an impact on earnings, for both graduates and non-graduates.

Still, a postsecondary education doesn’t ensure an equal playing field. Sanjukta Chaudhuri, who has been doing some excellent research recently on the gender pay gap, writes in this issue about the gender gap and education.

She found that men earn more than women at every level of educational attainment. The male-female earnings gap can range from 31 percent when both have a bachelor’s degree to 17 percent at the master’s degree level and 18 percent when they both have doctorates.

Why men and women with the same education earn unequal pay is the subject of much debate and will need further research. Factors could include choice of college major, occupational decisions, industry, hours worked, marital status, family composition, residence, age and work experience.

Elsewhere in this issue, Dave Senf and Steve Hine look at seasonally adjusting employment figures and why that practice is important for accurately gauging the direction and strength of the economy.

Finally, Rachel Vilsack writes about the Eligible Training Providers List and how it can help people make decisions about training programs and careers. It’s an important resource for career counselors and job seekers alike.

Monte Hanson

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