Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Educational Attainment and Employment Status for Young Adults
by Gail Krumenauer
Published May-22-2012

 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently published new findings from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Since 1997, the survey has followed about 9,000 men and women who were born between 1980 and 1984. This particular release focuses on educational attainment and employment for this group between the ages of 23 and 24.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • High school graduates who had never enrolled in college were employed an average of 75 percent of the weeks from age 18 to age 24. By comparison, those who had dropped out of high school were employed 55 percent of those weeks.

  • Individuals had an average of 5.4 jobs from the ages of 18 to 24 in 1998-2009. On average, men held 5.1 jobs and women held 5.6.

In addition, the BLS found that labor force status differed substantially by educational attainment at age 24. Those with more education were more likely to be employed. Three-fifths of high school dropouts were employed in civilian jobs in the October they were age 24. At the same age, 76 percent of high school graduates who had never enrolled in college were employed. Among 24-year-old high school graduates who had some college experience (but no degree) and were no longer enrolled in college, 80 percent were employed. Ninety-two percent of 24-year-olds who had earned a bachelor's degree were employed.

While men and women who had attended college or graduated from college were equally likely to be employed at age 24, at lower education levels, men were more likely to be working than women. Sixty-nine percent of male high school dropouts were employed in the civilian labor force during the October when they were age 24, compared with 49 percent of female dropouts.

The full BLS news release ( www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsyth.pdf) contains more information, including data for educational attainment and employment status by gender, race, and ethnicity.

Graph 1
Employment status of 24 year olds in 2004-2009 United States