College graduates are entering the strongest job market the country has seen in nearly a decade, and their degree is more important than ever, according to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The Associated Press reports Yellen offered the comments at a commencement ceremony Monday for graduates of the University of Baltimore, where she said succeeding in the job market is increasingly tied to higher education.
“Those with a college degree are more likely to find a job, keep a job, have higher job satisfaction and earn a higher salary,” Yellen said.
Annual earnings for college graduates last year were, on average, 70% higher than those with only a high school diploma, according to Yellen. Back in 1980 that difference was only 20%.
The increasing demand for people with college and graduate degrees reflected the need for higher technological skills and the impact of globalization, which allows goods and services to be produced anywhere, Yellen said, adding that those trends were likely to continue.
“Success will continue to be tied to education, in part because a good education enhances one’s ability to adapt to a changing economy,” she said.
In her remarks, Yellen said that in addition to the improvement in the unemployment rate, which in November fell to a nine-year low of 4.6%, there have been recent signs that wage growth is picking up.
But Yellen noted that challenges remain.
“The economy is growing more slowly than in past recoveries and productivity growth, which is a major influence on wages, has been disappointing,” she told the graduates.