Research confirms what common sense suggests, higher levels of education are associated with better economic outcomes like higher wages and lower unemployment. And by improving health, increasing technology use, expanding volunteerism, and reducing public assistance, higher education levels have long-lasting effects on the economy. Eighty years ago, Kentucky's per capita personal income was just over 50% of the U.S. average; today it is just over 80%. Kentucky's educational position has improved significantly over the last twenty-five years, but the state still lags the U.S. in college attainment (23% compared to 30%) and academic achievement gaps continue to mute overall educational progress. According to a 2014 paper by John Fernald at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Charles Jones at Stanford, around three-fourths of U.S. economic growth since 1950 was fueled by just two factors—rising educational attainment and research intensity. In the global economy, Kentucky’s future economic prosperity will be determined largely by the pursuit of and investment in educational excellence.
Center for Business and Economic Research, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, "The Impact of Education Cascading through the Economy" (2015). CBER Infographic Posters. 1.
Adapted from the Kentucky Annual Economic Report 2015.