Figure

III-08f: Median Earnings of Humanities Majors as a Share of Median Earnings of Majors in Other Selected Fields, by Age, 2015 (Advanced Degree Holders)*

* For workers employed 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Advanced degree could be in any field. For an inventory of the particular degree programs included under each of the broad academic fields to which the graph refers, see the ACS-HI Crosswalk.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

For the purposes of the American Community Survey (ACS), the source of these data, the U.S. Census Bureau defines earnings as “the sum of wage or salary income and net income from self-employment. ‘Earnings’ represent the amount of income received regularly for people 16 years old and over before deductions for personal income taxes, Social Security, bond purchases, union dues, Medicare deductions, etc. An individual with earnings is one who has either wage/salary income or self-employment income, or both. Respondents who ‘break even’ in self-employment income and therefore have zero self-employment earnings also are considered ‘individuals with earnings’” (from ACS documentation provided at http://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/tech_docs/subject_definitions/2014_ACSSubjectDefinitions.pdf, p. 81).

This indicator uses ACS data to estimate the earnings of full-time workers who have a terminal bachelor’s degree in the humanities. (A full-time worker is defined as an individual who has worked at least 35 hours per week for 50 or more weeks, including paid vacation, in the preceding 12 months.) All earnings estimates are for the 12 months preceding response to the ACS. This indicator provides estimates of the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile earnings for humanities majors and majors in other major academic fields. The 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles are known as the lower, middle, and upper quartiles, and the middle quartile is also known as the median. Quartiles are statistics that divide the observations of a numeric sample into four groups, each of which contains 25% of the data. The lower, middle, and upper quartiles are computed by ordering the values for a particular variable from smallest to largest and then finding the values below which fall 25%, 50%, and 75% of the data. The lower quartile and the upper quartile are the two values that define the interquartile range. The interquartile range, which excludes the most extreme values of a data distribution, is used to describe the range of “typical” or “usual” values exhibited by a set of persons or objects.

The ACS permits respondents to specify up to two fields of bachelor’s degree. For the purposes of this analysis, an individual was counted as having a bachelor’s degree in the humanities if the field of either reported degree was within the scope of the humanities as specified by the HI. For an inventory of the specific fields included under the broad field groupings used here, see the ACS-HI Crosswalk.

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