Second City or dead last? The truth about educational attainment in Chicago


How much money will you make in a lifetime?

The answer has a lot to do with how much time you’ve spent in school.

According to the College Board, someone with a professional degree can expect to make nearly three times the amount of someone with just a high school diploma during their working years.

In fact, every year of college beyond high school brings a rise in your average hourly wage. And with each year you complete, the gap widens. Someone with just one year of college will make 8 percent more per hour than with just a high school diploma. Six years of college means a 19 percent bump.

So, it’s clear that more education generally means more money. But in Chicago, who gets educated has a lot to do with the color of their skin.

This week, we’ve been taking a look at how Chicago ranks as one of the 10 largest cities in the nation. So far, we’ve found that our minority poverty rate is sky-high, and the gap between the number of white and black Chicagoans in poverty is substantial. Chicago also has the highest unemployment rate for African Americans, compared with all the cities in the rankings.

When we look at New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose, how do they compare when it comes to educating their residents?

Here’s a fact that may throw you for a loop: In Chicago, more white people have graduate degrees than African Americans have associates degrees. The percentage of white people with graduate degrees is 24.2 percent. The percentage of black people who holds an associates degree is just 23.7 percent.

That’s not common. Chicago is the only one of the 10 largest cities where this is true.

Ready for another?

In Chicago, the percentage of Latinos who have a high school diploma is just slightly higher than the percentage of white people with a bachelors degree–56.7 percent, compared with 55.4 percent.

If education is one of the biggest factors into how much money goes into your pocket, and how much wealth you’re able to build, what does it say about us that our levels of educational attainment are as segregated as our streets?

Nothing good.

Photo credit: Jim Kelly

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for mainLogoNEW.gif

Leave a comment