The number of degrees and certificates awarded by the state’s public institutions increased by 27.8% between 2012 and 2021, according to the 2022 Employment Outcomes Report from Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
The report estimates that awarded bachelor’s degrees grew from 20,500 to nearly 28,000. Over a similar 10-year period, median earnings for Alabamians ages 25-64 rose 6% from just over $37,700 to $40,000 with bachelor’s degree holders earning upward of $52,000 annually five years after graduation, according to ACHE.
Employment data for graduates of Alabama public two- and four-year institutions confirm that advanced degrees almost always produce higher earnings. Jim Hood, ACHE deputy director of Financial and Information Systems, said in a written statement that the findings of the report support national data that link salary to educational attainment.
This data comes after the state reported its third highest weekly wages in history earlier this week.
The report findings indicate Alabama residents are three times more likely than out-of-state students to remain in the state following graduation. About 74% of associate’s degree and 62% of bachelor’s degree earners in 2015 remained in Alabama five years later.
The commission wants to keep more of those graduates working in the state while helping adults who have some college credits return to complete a degree or credential through the All in Alabama campaign.
Of working Alabama adults, 21.6% have some college without a degree.
Additionally, ACHE is also looking to lawmakers to help with the Economic Industry Alignment Program, designed to align the work of the state’s colleges and universities to the needs of business and industry.
“We are optimistic that lawmakers will fund (Re)Engage Alabama to address the increased needs of business and industry for credentialed workers,” Jim Purcell, ACHE executive director, said.
“It is cost beneficial to help these individuals complete a credential, especially one that is in high demand in the state’s economy.”
A survey earlier this year of unemployed people showed that a lack of transportation and child care were some of the factors keeping them out of the workforce.