PORTLAND — There are many factors that determine just how much an Oregonian earns, and education is among the biggest.
A new analysis from state labor economist Erik Knoder shows that Oregonians with a college degree earn two-thirds more than those who only graduated high school.
For those with the means, advanced education appears to be one path to advanced earnings.
And yet it’s far from the determining factor. In the same analysis, Knoder shows that things students cannot change — their race and gender — have similar effects.
Workers with only a high school diploma earned a little more than $30,000 annually in Oregon during 2018, according to the most recent Census data. The median earnings for all Oregonians was about $40,000.
The data shows a college education makes a big difference — a median Oregonian with a bachelor’s degree earns more than $50,000 annually. And the gains increase with an advanced degree, with median earnings in that category nearing $70,000.
It’s only logical, of course, that more education leads to higher earnings. Additional education can better prepare workers for jobs — and those who can afford advanced education may already be set up to advance professionally.
So Knoder looks at other factors that affect earnings, including gender and race. He found men with only a high school degree make nearly $6,000 more each year than a better-educated woman who has attended college but doesn’t have a four-year degree.
Oregon men who graduated from college but didn’t earn an advanced degree actually out-earn women with an advanced degree by more than $1,000 a year.
Big gaps exist in Oregon based on race and ethnicity — with whites and Asians significantly out-earning other demographics, according to a recent study by another Oregon economist, Sarah Cunningham.
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