More than one-quarter of adults age 25 and older had at least a bachelor's
degree in 2002, about 1 percentage point higher than the previous year, according
to a Census Bureau report. The jump in the percentage of college graduates resulted
from significant increases for women, non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans.
When it comes to income, however, white men with a college degree, on average,
earned about 40 percent more than white women with a similar education level
did and 30 percent more than black and Hispanic men earned, the Houston Chronicle
In addition, although almost half of people of Asian descent have graduated
from college, they earned 8 percent less than whites did in 2002, the newspaper
"There's a wedge between minority education gains and the payoff, and
that's discrimination and the kinds of job opportunities available," says
Jared Bernstein, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute.
About 3-in-10 young adults, ages 25 to 29 in 2002, had completed a bachelor's
degree, matching the 2000 record high, according to the Census Bureau. Adults
age 18 and over with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $50,623 a year
in 2001, while those with a high school diploma earned $26,795 and those without
a high school diploma averaged $18,793. Advanced degree-holders made an average
of $72,869 in 2001. Other highlights for the population 25 years and over in
- Asians and Pacific Islanders had the highest proportion of college graduates
(47 percent), followed by non-Hispanic whites (29 percent), African-Americans
(17 percent) and Hispanics (11 percent).
- The proportion of Hispanics born in the United States who had a bachelor's
degree or more (14 percent) was higher than that of those born outside the
country (9 percent). For Asians and Pacific islanders, the corresponding rates
were much closer: 44 percent and 48 percent, respectively.
- Ninety percent of the employed civilian labor force age 25 and over had
a high school diploma and 32 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher.
- The Northeast region had the highest proportion of college graduates (29
percent), followed by the West (28 percent). The proportions of college graduates
in the Midwest (26 percent) and the South (25 percent) were not statistically