ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — According to a new Smartest Dollar Report, 15.8% of professionals in Albany are minorities, which ranks below the national average of 29.5%. The report defines professionals as “those in occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher.”

The report cites educational attainment as a major predictor of earning potential in the U.S. labor force, and many experts point to education as a vital tool for addressing these gaps. The report also claims that educational wage gaps have only increased over time, with a significant jump in mean annual earnings from 1975 to 2022 for those with an advanced degree and bachelor’s degree, with not much change for those with some college experience or less. A lot of jobs that did not require a college degree in the past do now, a trend experts are calling “degree inflation,” according to the report.

Since 1980, wages in 2022 dollars have increased 43.2% for advanced degree holders and 29.5% for bachelor’s degree holders, the report cites. An 11.1% increase over time in earnings for high school graduates was recorded, while non-high school graduates have a 2.7% raise in wages, according to the report. Many experts cite that students from a majority of racial and ethnic minority groups face more challenges in accessing college compared to their white student counterparts.

According to the report Hawaii, at the state level, has the highest percentage of professionals that are minorities, at 68.8%. Four other states have percentages above 40%, including California, New Mexico, Texas and Maryland, the report cites.

The report indicates that in only five out of over 250 metropolitan areas included, minorities were overrepresented among professional workers. The data used in the study comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.