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Houston makes the cut as the 10th largest educational wage gap in the country.

The Smartest Dollar, a financial service provider revealed a new report looking at the U.S. locations with the largest educational wage gaps.

While recent economic trends have encouraged companies to relax degree requirements as a way to attract more workers, for the last several decades higher education has been tightly coupled with economic opportunity in the U.S.

Unemployment rates tend to be lower for people with greater educational attainment, and wages tend to be higher. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for workers with a high school diploma total $809, but for college degree holders that figure is $1,334, while those with professional degrees earn $1,924 per week.

But college education comes at a cost, and students in recent decades have struggled with rising tuition and fees. According to data from the College Board, inflation-adjusted tuition and fees for a public four-year college are 2.25 times higher than they were three decades ago, while private nonprofit four-year colleges cost 1.8 times more. This trend has only begun to slow in the past few years as colleges face declining enrollment in the face of greater questions about the value of higher education and a shrinking college-age population.

Historically, students’ belief in future economic returns on their education has mostly outweighed concerns over rising costs. In 2000, the share of Americans 25 years and older with bachelor degrees was 25%. Bachelor’s degree attainment in the U.S. has grown steadily since the turn of the century, and today, 35% of the 25-years-and-older population has their bachelor’s degree.

The importance of education for economic opportunity has become even clearer as gaps in earnings between more- and less-educated workers have grown over time. In inflation-adjusted dollars, professional degree holders have seen median wage growth of more than 15% since the year 2000. Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree holders have also seen modest growth in real dollars over the same span. But for high school graduates, real median annual wages have declined by 4.1% since the beginning of the millennium. Professional degree holders earned 2.5 times as much as a high school graduate in 2000, but earn 3 times as much now.

The analysis found that college graduates working full-time in the Houston metro area earn a median annual wage of $80,000, while full-time high school graduates earn a median $40,000. Out of all large U.S. metros, Houston has the 10th largest educational wage gap. Here is a summary of the data for the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX metro area:

  • Educational wage gap: +100.0%
  • Median annual wage for full-time college graduates: $80,000
  • Median annual wage for full-time high school graduates: $40,000
  • Percentage of full-time workers with college degrees: 43.7%

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

  • Educational wage gap: +95.0%
  • Median annual wage for full-time college graduates: $78,000
  • Median annual wage for full-time high school graduates: $40,000
  • Percentage of full-time workers with college degrees: 43.9%