Chart of the Day: A High School Diploma Ain’t What It Used to Be


As we all know, the biggest driving force behind rising income inequality has been the skyrocketing earnings of the top 1 percent. But although that might account for most of the story, it doesn’t account for all of it. There’s also a growing disparity between the earnings of college grads and the earnings of high school grads.

The chart below, from Pew Research, tells the story. In 1965, high school grads earned 19 percent less than college grads. Since then, the earnings of college grads have gone up (though slowly over the past two decades), while the earnings of high school grads have plummeted. As a result, high school grads today earn a whopping 39 percent less than college grads. Life for the 47 percent of Americans who have high school diplomas but no more is an increasingly parlous one.

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