It is clear that "education pays" in terms of absolute income people earn over their lifetime---the more you learn the more you earn.
But another benefit of more education is the likely-hood of having gainful employment on a continual basis. If you lose your job you are more likely to find another one in a relatively short period of time.
This graph from the Census Bureaus American Community Survey illustrates this nicely.
I inserted a RED line at the age of 60 to show the difference between years of work experience a person would have at the various levels of education.
You can see clearly someone with less than a high school diploma fares the worst by far with only about 27 years of work experience on average. Those with a college degree (or more) and those with some college trend together with 40 years of experience. High school graduates lag by less than 5 years.
Stay in school, kids...
For more support here is a graph from the same American Community Survey that shows median monthly income by education level and years of experience. I put a RED line at the end of the data lines at 35+ years of experience. Dramatic, is it not?
I repeat. Stay in school, kids!