Employment rates of college graduates
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Focusing on 25- to 34-year-olds (referred to here as “young adults”), this Fast Fact examines recent trends in the employment rate. The employment rate (also known as the employment to population ratio) is the number of persons in a given group who are employed as a percentage of the civilian population in that group.1
In 2018, the employment rate was higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, the employment rate was highest for young adults with a bachelor’s or higher degree (86 percent). The employment rate for young adults with some college2 (79 percent) was higher than the rate for those who had completed high school3 (72 percent), which was, in turn, higher than the employment rate for those who had not completed high school (59 percent). The same pattern was observed among both young adult males and young adult females. For example, the employment rate for young adult females was highest for those with a bachelor’s or higher degree (83 percent) and lowest for those who had not completed high school (41 percent).
Employment rates of 25- to 34-year-olds, by sex and educational attainment: 2018
NOTE: Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities) and all military personnel. The employment rate, or employment to population ratio, is the number of persons in each group who are employed as a percentage of the civilian population in that group. “Some college, no bachelor’s degree” includes persons with an associate’s degree. “High school completion” includes equivalency credentials, such as the GED. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
From December 2007 through June 2009, the U.S. economy experienced a recession.4 For young adults overall, the employment rate was lower in 2010 (73 percent), immediately after the recession, than in 2000 (82 percent), prior to the recession. The employment rate increased after 2010, reaching 79 percent in 2018; however, the rate in 2018 was still lower than the rate in 2000. During these years, the same patterns in employment rates were observed for young adults at all levels of educational attainment. For instance, for young adults who had completed high school, the employment rate was lower in 2010 (68 percent) than in 2000 (80 percent); the employment rate then increased to 72 percent in 2018, though this rate was still lower than the rate in 2000.
1 Data in this Fast Fact are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities) and excludes all military personnel.
2 In this Fast Fact, “some college” includes those with an associate’s degree and those who have attended college but have not obtained a bachelor’s degree.
3 Includes equivalency credentials, such as the GED.
4 National Bureau of Economic Research. (2010). U.S. Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from http://www.nber.org/cycles.html.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). The Condition of Education 2019 (NCES 2019-144), Employment and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment.
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