The Higher Education Payoff for Young African Americans

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows how higher education pays off for young African Americans. For African Americans ages 25-34 with only a high school diploma, average earnings in 2010 were $25,000. But for African Americans that earned a two-year associate’s degree, average earnings jumped to $31,400.

For Blacks with a four-year college degree, average earnings in 2010 were $39,500. For those with a master’s degree, mean earnings were $49,100.


Higher education also serves to lessen the racial gap in earnings between Blacks and Whites. All African Americans ages 25-34 in 2010 had average earnings that were 79 percent of the average earnings of similarly aged Whites. But for those with a bachelor’s degree, Blacks had earnings that were 86 percent of the earnings of Whites with a bachelor’s degrees.

The earnings gap is even smaller when we examine master’s degree recipients. In 2010, young Blacks with a master’s degree had average earnings of $49,100. This is 90.6 percent of the average earnings of young Whites with a master’s degree.


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