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TriNet SMBeat Report Shows Workers with Higher Education Earn More, Have Lower Unemployment Rates

August report also reveals college graduates are healthier and spend more time on family activities 

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. – September 5, 2014 –


(NYSE: TNET), a leading cloud-based

provider of HR services

, today announced the findings of its August 2014 issue of TriNet SMBeat, a monthly analysis of small to medium-sized business (SMB) employment and human capital economic indicators. August’s SMBeat features an analysis of financial impacts of higher education. Among other findings, the report highlights that workers with a college degree earn $23,764 more in median annual earnings compared to their counterparts who have only graduated high school. Based on this data, even facing increasing costs of higher education, there is a clear benefit in earnings potential for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

According to the U.S. Census, the expected lifetime earnings of a high school graduate are $1.4 million, while the expected earnings of a bachelor’s degree holder are $2.4 million.[1] Additional academic research has estimated that the true opportunity cost of not obtaining a college degree is $500,000.[2] Additionally, while post-secondary degree holders were not exempt from the pressures of the diminishing economy, they experienced lower overall unemployment rates than the workforce as a whole.

Below are key findings of the August 2014 TriNet SMBeat Report. The data is sourced from TriNet’s over 9,000 clients and more than 258,000 worksite employees in the U.S[3] and the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The median annual earnings for a worker holding a master’s degree was $69,108 in 2013. This amounts to about $35,256 more than a worker with a high school diploma.[4]
  • In 2013, unemployment rates for high school grads were around 7.5% and those with a bachelor’s degree was 4%. At that time, advanced degree holders had even lower unemployment rates as workers with a master’s degree were at 3.4% and professional degree holders were at 2.3%.[5]
  • Americans who have been out of work for a year or more are much more likely to be obese than those unemployed for a shorter time. The obesity rate rises from 22.8% among those unemployed for two weeks or less to 32.7% among those unemployed for 52 weeks or more.[6]
  • When looking at education attainment and how that corresponds with time spent working, respondents with less than a high school diploma work an average of about 33.5 hours per week whereas respondents with an associate’s, bachelor’s master’s or doctorate degree all worked more than 40 hours per week on average.
  • Bachelor’s degree holders spend 23% more hours per day on household activities/family care than those with less than a high school diploma (4.38 hours versus 3.65 hours per day).

According to a recent study, there are 3.6 unemployed workers for every job in the United States. Many jobs are going unfilled simply for lack of people with the right skill sets. The President of the United States has recognized this issue as he recently put forth a call to action on college opportunity to help ensure that every child, rich or poor, has the access to a quality college education. His goal is for working and middle class Americans to be able to afford and attend college.[7] Given the impact higher education has on earnings and the ability for gainful employment and a healthy, balanced life, it seems clear that every effort should be made to help Americans attend college and gain the skills necessary to get the jobs they want and need.

In addition to the findings on the importance of higher education, below are the key findings on economic employment indicators across TriNet’s clients in August:

  • In August, net job growth increased to 1.51%, up from July’s growth of 1.19%
  • The life sciences sector had 0.84% net job growth.

    • The San Francisco Bay Area led this vertical with 0.98% net job growth.
    • The Los Angeles metro area also posted positive net job growth with 0.25%.
  • In the tech sector, net job growth increased in August, to 2.96% from 2.21% in July.

    • Silicon Valley led the tech sector with 3.80% net job growth, though the New York Metro area was right behind with 3.12%.
    • The Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver-Boulder and Boston areas also posted positive growth last month, with gains of 2.95%, 2.82%, 2.12% and 1.43%, respectively.

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 About TriNet

TriNet is a leading provider of a comprehensive human resources solution for small to medium-sized businesses, or SMBs. We enhance business productivity by enabling our clients to outsource their human resources, or HR, function to one strategic partner and allowing them to focus on operating and growing their core businesses. Our HR solution includes services such as payroll processing, human capital consulting, employment law compliance and employee benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans and workers compensation insurance. Our services are delivered by our expert team of HR professionals and enabled by our proprietary, cloud-based technology platform, which allows our clients and their employees to efficiently conduct their HR transactions anytime and anywhere. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

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[1] Tiffany Julian, “Work-Life Earnings by Field of Degree and Occupation for People with a Bachelor’s Degree: 2011,” American Community Survey Briefs, October 2012.

[2] David H. Autor, “Skills, education, and the rise of earnings inequality among the ‘other 99 percent,” Science 344 (2014): 843-851, May 23, 2014

[3] As of June 30, 2014.  Data is sourced from full-time and salaried employees of TriNet’s clients, which we refer to as worksite employees.

[4] The Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment,” March 24, 2014

[5] The Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment,” March 24, 2014

[6] Steve Crabtree, “Obesity Linked to Long-Term Unemployment in U.S.” Gallup Well-Being, June 18, 2014.

[7]The White House Office of the Press Secretary, “Fact Sheet: The President and First Lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity,” January 16, 2014.

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