U.S. Census projects back-to-school facts and figures

Analysts of the U.S. Census Bureau project that nearly 28,000 youngsters returned to Cache Valley schools this fall.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – If you’ve ever wondered – and even if you haven’t – the U.S. Census Bureau has reams of data about back-to-school statistics here in America.

Based on the 2020 survey of all Americans, Census analysts have compiled estimates of everything from the number of children returning to classrooms this fall to the cost of clothing and equipping them.

The smart people at the Census have projected that about 73 million young people are going back to school this fall. That’s the number of children and adults enrolled in nursery schools through high school throughout the country.

About 25 million of those are children aged 3 to 6 enrolled in head start and pre-kindergarten programs.

About 33 million are children attending elementary schools (kindergarten through 8th grade).

About 15 million are students in grades 9 to 12 enrolled at one of more than 26,000 high schools with 1.8 million teachers throughout the country.

Here in Utah, after a roller-coaster ride during the Coronavirus pandemic, total student enrollment figures are back in positive numbers with more than 674,000 students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.

That’s about 456,000 students enrolled in kindergarten through 8th grade and nearly 219,000 students in high schools.

The Census folks even have projections down to county levels. Here in Cache County, total enrollment is projected to be nearly 28,000 students.

That breaks down to about 19,000 youngsters in kindergarten through 8th grade and nearly 9,000 high school students.

Naturally, equipping and clothing those kids to go back to school is an industry in itself. Thankfully, more than 42,000 American retailers are prepared to help with that chore.

That’s about 5,000 children’s and infant’s clothing stores; 22,000 shoe stores; 4,000 department stores; 5,000 office supply and stationary stores; and 6,000 bookstores.

Spending on school clothes and supplies this year is on track to match last year’s record of $37 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. That group estimates that families with school children will spend an average of $864 or $15 more than last year.

Due to inflation, however, consumers report that they are bargain shopping, buying more generic products and making do with last year’s items.

Is all this expense really necessary? Census analysts say that education does pay off.

Based on their findings from the 2020 Current Population Survey, the Census folks say that workers aged 18 and older reported differing median yearly salaries based on their education.

The median salaries of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher was reported at $73,000.

By comparison, the median salary for individuals with a high school diploma or GED certificate made about 45 percent less or $39,000.

The median salary for those with less than a 9th grade education was $32,000.

Census analysts project that the average per-pupil spending for elementary and secondary school students through the United States would be about $13,500 in 2022.

Here in Utah, that figure is $7,628.

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