By Anthony P. Carnevale and Emma Wenzinger

Our research has shown again and again that college pays off. People earn more, on average, with every additional level of education, and students’ financial returns over a career typically surpass their initial investment in college. At the same time, however, the cost of college and total student loan debt have been rising for decades. In the past 10 years, federal student loan debt grew by 102 percent, and aggregate outstanding student loan debt in the United States reached $1.7 trillion this year. …


By Anthony P. Carnevale and Nicole Smith

Our recent report analyzes the economic impact of the Biden-Harris administration’s infrastructure plan. You may wonder why we focused on the traditional infrastructure spending in the American Jobs Plan, which will cost more than $2 trillion.

The question about what, exactly, constitutes infrastructure has dominated the discussion since President Joe Biden announced his infrastructure plan at the end of March. The plan, which includes childcare tax credits and funding for eldercare and education, takes a broad view of infrastructure. …


By Anthony P. Carnevale and Megan L. Fasules

Many Americans are eager to get back out into the world after a year of being cooped up at home because of the pandemic. The development, approval, and administration of vaccines will be major factors in the lifting of restrictions on people’s activities. Progress is slowly but steadily occurring on this front: 32 percent of US adults (84 million adults) had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by March 23, 2021. However, the vaccine rollout continues to encounter problems. …


Nearly half of adults experienced loss of employment income in their household since March 13, 2020

By Anthony P. Carnevale

One year ago, a novel coronavirus spread rapidly across the United States, leading to widespread school and business closures. As if the sobering death toll weren’t enough, the impact on the economy has been devastating. Overall job losses from the start of the recession reached 21 million in April before falling slowly. Forty-seven percent of adults experienced a loss of employment income in their household between March 13, 2020, and early February 2021.

Job losses slowed after the initial shutdown of businesses, and overall job losses since March 2020 dropped to less than 5.7 million in…


By Anthony P. Carnevale and Megan L. Fasules

It’s been one year since a majority of K–12 students across the country transitioned to online, at-home school. Virtual learning has created many changes for students, parents, and teachers, but some things — like math homework — remain with us. As math classes celebrate Pi Day* on March 14, students may be wondering whether the math they learn in high school will be useful in their adult lives. We took a look at the data to help answer that age-old question.

Having some math knowledge comes in handy for certain common tasks…


By Anthony P. Carnevale

Black History Month honors the achievements of Black Americans while acknowledging the systemic racism that has fueled inequality of opportunity in this country. Despite equity issues in the education pipeline and discrimination in the workforce, many Black students and workers have persisted and flourished.

Black workers have made significant gains in the past few decades. …


By Anthony P. Carnevale and Megan L. Fasules

In celebration of Black History Month, we compiled a list of the highest-paying college majors for Black graduates. Industrial and manufacturing engineering tops the list with median annual earnings of $80,900. In fact, the top five majors are all in engineering fields, including electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineering. Health, business, and computers, statistics, and mathematics majors round the top 10.

Engineering yields high earnings not only for Black graduates but for graduates in general. On average, a worker with a bachelor’s degree in engineering earns 25 percent more than the average bachelor’s…


Technology gaps make learning harder for students in lower-income households.

By Anthony P. Carnevale and Megan L. Fasules

Just as COVID-19 has disrupted jobs and careers for many American workers, it has also disrupted school routines for their children. Many elementary, middle, and high schools have closed classroom buildings in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading. As a result, children are at home, using computers to try to keep up with their lessons online.

This situation can be lonely and frustrating, especially for K–12 students who lack appropriate equipment to plug in to their virtual schools. It also exacerbates inequality — children in lower-income households are just as…


By Anthony P. Carnevale and Megan L. Fasules

As the fall semester approached and the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc, many students who had planned to take postsecondary classes faced difficult decisions. In past recessions, some students delayed entering a sluggish labor market by pursuing further education (Figure 1). In fact, college going increased in every recession since the 1960s, until now. In 2020, the combination of financial and health concerns caused by the pandemic prevented many students from starting or continuing their postsecondary education. Undergraduate enrollment has decreased by 4 percent (nearly 530,000 students) across public institutions, and…


By Anthony P. Carnevale and Megan L. Fasules

Every day on the job, workers use their unique combination of education, experience, and competencies. While much of our work has focused on connecting workers’ education with their earnings, our new research highlights how competencies — the knowledge, skills, and abilities that workers need to do their jobs — mix with education to affect earnings in different occupations.

We examined how workers’ competencies and education level affect their earnings for each of nine major occupational groups, which together include more than 1,000 occupations. …

Anthony P. Carnevale

Director and Research Professor at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute.

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