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Recent commentaries have suggested that the gap in earnings between the humanities and other fields narrows with additional work experience.1 The data show a substantial increase in earnings for humanities majors with age; however, the change in the earnings differential relative to other fields varies considerably depending on the highest degree achieved and the field of comparison.2

Endnotes

  • 1Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly, Liberal Arts Degrees and Their Value in the Employment Market (Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2014).
  • 2The American Community Survey, which yields the data on which these indicators are based, does not ask respondents about their amount of work experience. Thus the Humanities Indicators uses age to distinguish between workers who are in the first years of their career and those who are more experienced. Age and work experience are not perfectly correlated, but age does provide an approximate measure of work experience that allows the Humanities Indicators to examine the effect of this experience on unemployment and earnings of humanities majors.

III-08a: Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with a Terminal Bachelor’s Degree, Ages 24–34, by Field of Major, 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. 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.

III-08b: Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with a Terminal Bachelor’s Degree, Ages 35–54, by Field of Major, 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. 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.

III-08c: Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with an Advanced Degree (in Any Field), Ages 24–34, by Field of Undergraduate Major, 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. 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.

III-08d: Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with an Advanced Degree (in Any Field), Ages 35–54, by Field of Undergraduate Major, 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. 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 Humanities Indicators. For an inventory of the specific fields included under the broad field groupings used here, see the ACS-HI Crosswalk.

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* For workers employed 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. 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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* 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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