In what category did consumers worldwide increase their spending during the recession? Higher education. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), enrollment in colleges and universities rose one-third in China and almost two-thirds in Saudi Arabia, nearly doubled in Pakistan, tripled in Uganda, and surged by three million - 18 percent - in the United States. Why were consumers willing to spend on education during lean times? Both individuals and countries view higher education as the way to prosperity. Many feel that increased earnings are a significant benefit of attending college.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2012 supports this view, as shown in Figure 6.10. They show a positive correlation between earnings and education. The data also indicate that unemployment rates fall with higher levels of education and training.
Figure 6.10 The Impact of Education on Earnings and Unemployment Rates, 2012 Those with the highest degrees in 2012 had substantially lower unemployment rates whereas those with the least formal education suffered from the highest unemployment rates. The national median average weekly income was $815, and the nation unemployment average in 2012 was 6.8%.