I posted earlier today on the issue of education and unemployment. In that post I suggested the a plot of the unemployment rate vs age by education would be a better plot than the one shown over at Calculated Risk. The plot above show that data based on calculations I did today using the 2011 public use files for the American Community Survey.
In order to keep the concepts simple there are only two groups shown. The line is blue is the rate for those with only a regular high school diploma. I did not include those who have earned a GED or those who went on to get at least a partial college education. I did not include either those currently enrolled in school. Similarly for the college graduates I included only those with a college degree. I excluded those with advanced degrees and those currently enrolled in school. Thus the comparison is strictly focused on the advantage of of college degree as opposed to a high school diploma.
The graph shows the unemployment rate by singe year of age starting at age 16 and going up to age 66. It clearly shows that at all age levels those with a college degree hold a clear advantage over those with just a high school diploma by several percentage points during most of their working life. It is not until age 45 that the difference in unemployment rates drops below five percentage points.
Thus from the employment perspective there is every incentive to go on and get the college degree.
Some limitations still apply. The plot is focused in the middle of the present recession and thus the advantage may not be as great during the boom years. Also the advantage is very likely a function of the field of study for the college degree.
The next project will be to start looking at the income data out of the American Community Survey. Had I realized how easy it would be to create the plot above I would have gone ahead and done the work needed to include it in my first post on the subject.