The college premium

The numbers show a conflicted yet striking pattern. Real earnings for men, 25 to 34, with bachelor’s degrees are down 19 percent since 2000, and for female college graduates of that age they are down 16 percent since 2003.

Yet the wage differential between college graduates and high school graduates — the college premium — is growing. Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent. Even a cashier with a college degree makes more than a cashier without a college degree.