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Does Education Pay In Asheville?

Johnson Price Sprinkle PA accounting firm reports on the question “Does education pay in Asheville?”.  It is widely accepted that attaining higher levels of formal education leads to higher earnings in the workplace. There are a host of reasons why, but in basic economic terms, knowledge adds to a worker’s productivity which in turn means higher worker value for employers.

In the four-county Asheville metro (Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, and Madison) there is a direct correlation between a worker’s level of education and average monthly earnings (see chart below). Earnings rise at each level of formal education earned, the greatest between workers with “Some College or Associate Degree” and those with a “Bachelor’s or Advanced Degree,” an average increase of $1,695 or 52.2 percent more per month.

Asheville Average Monthly Earnings
By Highest Level of Education Earned
2016, Age 25+

Asheville Metro Average Monthly Earnings By Highest Level of Education Earned 2016, Age 25+

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

It is not surprising that the pattern of higher formal education leading to increased earnings also holds in the state and nationwide (see chart below). However, Asheville metro varies notably.  For example, nationwide the increase between workers that have “Some College or Associate Degree” and those with a “Bachelor’s or Advanced Degree” is $3,715 or 81.7 percent more per month. More than double the difference experienced in Asheville.

Average Monthly Earnings
By Highest Level of Education Earned
2016, Age 25+

Average Monthly Earnings By Highest Level of Education Earned 2016, Age 25+Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Of course, the level of education by itself doesn’t indicate the field or area of worker study, which plays an important role in determining earnings. An examination of individual industries does provide some additional insight into those underlying differences. Looking at Asheville metro’s four largest industry sectors, which together account for slightly more than 60 percent of all jobs in the metro, shows the industry of employment can make as much of an impact on earnings as the level of education. For example, on average a worker in Asheville metro with a “High School Degree” earns $2,231 more per month in Manufacturing than a worker with the same level of education in Restaurants & Accommodations (see chart below).

Additionally, looking beyond Asheville’s metro, location also plays an important role in earnings.  A worker in Asheville metro’s Manufacturing sector with a “Bachelor’s or Advanced Degree” earns $3,048 less per month than an average worker in the same industry with the same level of education nationwide. Conversely, a Health Care worker in Asheville metro with a “Bachelor’s or Advanced Degree” earns $120 more per month than the average Health Care worker with the same level of education nationwide.

Average Monthly Earnings
By Highest Level of Education Earned & Industry Employed
2016, Age 25+

Avg Monthly Earnings By Highest Level of Education Earned & Industry Employed 2016, Age 25+

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau

So, does education pay in Asheville? Yes, strictly speaking, more education leads to higher earnings. However, the industry of employment also plays just as important a role. And if considering a comparison of education and earning in Asheville to the state and nation, even further influences appear. While education clearly does pay in Asheville, there are many other factors that also impact a worker’s earnings.

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Johnson Price Sprinkle PA is a 60+ year old accounting firm providing small to middle market businesses with tax, business consulting, audit, fraud, and technology solution services. With offices in Asheville, Boone, and Marion, NC, our CPAs and JPS team strive to provide personal service alongside technical expertise resulting in our clients’ long-term financial success. We also invest time and energy in our community, taking pride in doing what we can to make Western North Carolina a better place. JPS Mission: To Be Greater by positively impacting our Clients, People, Community and Profession.