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Data from the American Community Survey (ACS) describe not only what kinds of occupations those with undergraduate degrees in the humanities pursue but also their earnings as compared with workers who earned their degrees in other fields. An analysis of ACS data, along with job satisfaction data from another federal government survey, Baccalaureate and Beyond (see Indicator III-10), provides a window on the rewards, both monetary and psychological, that humanities majors’ work affords them. 

III-06a: Median Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with a Terminal Bachelor’s Degree, by Gender for Selected Fields of Degree, 2015*

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* Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Fields are arranged in descending order of earnings for both genders.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts 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.) This indicator focuses on the median earnings of humanities majors. For data regarding the range of typical earnings of humanities majors, see the supporting table for this indicator. This table provides estimates of the 25th and 75th percentile earnings for humanities majors and majors in other major academic fields. The 25th and 75th percentiles are known as the lower and upper quartiles. 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 middle quartile is also known as the median). 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. This indicator also compares the earnings of humanities majors with those of workers who hold terminal bachelor’s degrees in other fields. The fields differ with respect to the unemployment rates of their majors (see the indicators under “The Employment Status of Humanities Majors”). For the purposes of this analysis, all workers with a terminal bachelor’s degree in the specified fields were included, irrespective of their age. 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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* The earnings gap is the difference between male and female median annual earnings expressed as a percentage of male median earnings. Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts 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.) For the purposes of this analysis, all workers with a terminal bachelor’s degree in the specified fields were included, irrespective of their age. 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.

III-06c: Median Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with a Terminal Bachelor’s Degree in the Humanities, by Gender for Selected Disciplines, 2015*

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* Those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Fields are arranged in descending order of earnings for both genders.
** Languages other than English.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts 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.) This indicator focuses on the median earnings of humanities majors. For data regarding the range of typical earnings of humanities majors, see the supporting table for this indicator. This table provides estimates of the 25th and 75th percentile earnings for humanities majors and majors in other major academic fields. The 25th and 75th percentiles are known as the lower and upper quartiles. 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 middle quartile is also known as the median). 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. For the purposes of this analysis, all workers with a terminal bachelor’s degree in the specified fields were included, irrespective of their age. 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. The 2015 ACS questionnaire asks respondents to describe the discipline of their undergraduate degree in their own words. Degrees are then classified by the Census Bureau into disciplinary subcategories. These subcategories are then combined by the bureau to create the more general disciplinary categories used in this analysis. “History (Excluding U.S. History)” degrees (referred to simply as “History” degrees by the Census Bureau) include those degrees identified by the bureau as being in:

  • “History, General”;
  • “European History”;
  • “Public/Applied History and Archival Administration”;
  • “Asian History”;
  • “Canadian History”; and
  • “History, Other.”
  • Excluded are degrees in “United States History.” These degrees constitute a separate category. “Studies in French, German, Latin, and Other Common LOTE” degrees (referred to as degrees in “French, German, Latin, and Other Common Foreign Language Studies” by the Census Bureau) include those in:
  • “German Language and Literature”;
  • “Modern Greek Language and Literature”;
  • “Romance Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics”;
  • “French Language and Literature”;
  • “Italian Language and Literature”;
  • “Spanish Language and Literature”;
  • “Ancient Classical Greek Language and Literature”;
  • “Latin Language and Literature”;
  • “American Sign Language (ASL)”;
  • “Linguistics of ASL and Other Sign Languages”; and
  • “Sign Language Interpretation and Translation.”
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* The earnings gap is the difference between male and female median earnings expressed as a percentage of male median earnings. Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months.
** Languages other than English.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts 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.) For the purposes of this analysis, all workers with a terminal bachelor’s degree in the specified fields were included, irrespective of their age. 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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