Postsecondary credentials are helping GED graduates meet the growing demands of the job market, while helping stimulate the American economy.

According to research from The Brookings Institution the average bachelor’s degree holder contributes $278,000 more to local economies than the average high school graduate through direct spending over the course of his or her lifetime. An associate degree holder contributes $81,000 more than a high school graduate.

This data supports the growing number of GED graduates seeking and earning postsecondary credentials to enter the workforce. We have found that since the launch of the 2014 test, 2 out of 3 GED graduates express interest in attending college. These graduates aren’t just interested in college, they are acting on their aspirations. GED grads are entering college programs at a higher rate than in the past. With more than 35% enrolling in a college program within a year of earning their credential, and at least 41% enrolling in college within two years of earning their credential.

Higher education is directly linked to increased earnings and more economic activity, further stimulating the local, regional and national economy. GED graduates recognize the correlation and are increasingly pursuing opportunities to upskill and enroll in higher education institutions.

In a recent survey of over 4,000 GED graduates that earned the College Ready (CR) score levels, we found that 57% of CR GED grads plan to earn a four-year degree from a college or university and 29% plan to earn a certificate or associate degree from a two-year program.

We also found that 71% of CR GED grads are currently employed in a number of fields including positions with for-profit and non-profit companies and jobs in the healthcare industry, military and government.

High school graduates on average earn $9,000 more each year than their non-graduate counterparts and high school dropouts cost the economy $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue annually. Earning a GED and a postsecondary credential also equips graduates with the skills needed to meet the demands of the current workforce. Over 50% of U.S. jobs are middle skill jobs with only 44% of workers qualified to fill these positions. These middle skill jobs require at least some postsecondary education and training, but less than a 4-year degree.

According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce there are 30 million “good jobs” available in the U.S. with median salaries around $55,000 for people without Bachelor’s degrees. Many of these “good jobs” are middle skill jobs that can be found in the hospitality, healthcare and finance sectors.

The need for GED graduates with postsecondary credentials will only continue to grow as millions of middle skill jobs are created and others remain vacant.

More information about GED graduates and college readiness can be found here.