Income of young adults

Question:
What is the average income for young adults?

Response:

In 2013, some 65 percent of young adults ages 25-34 who were in the labor force worked full time, year round (i.e., worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year). The percentage of young adults working full time, year round was generally higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, 72 percent of young adults with a bachelor's degree worked full time, year round in 2013, compared with 62 percent of young adult high school completers (those with a high school diploma or its equivalent).

Changes over time in the percentage of young adults in the labor force who worked full time, year round varied by level of educational attainment. From 2000 to 2013, the percentage of young adults without a high school credential (i.e., without a high school diploma or its equivalent) who worked full time, year round decreased from 59 to 53 percent, and the corresponding percentage of high school completers decreased from 67 to 62 percent. However, during the same period the percentages of young adults with an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or master's degree or higher who worked full time, year round did not change measurably. Between the most recent years of 2012 and 2013, the percentages of young adults working full time, year round did not change measurably for most levels of educational attainment. The exception was the percentage of young adults without a high school credential who worked full time, year round, which was higher in 2013 (53 percent) than in 2012 (49 percent).

For young adults ages 25-34 who worked full time, year round, higher educational attainment was associated with higher median earnings; this pattern was consistent for 2000, 2003, and 2005 through 2013. For example, in 2013 median earnings for young adults with a bachelor's degree were $48,500, compared with $23,900 for those without a high school credential, $30,000 for those with a high school credential, and $37,500 for those with an associate's degree. In other words, young adults with a bachelor's degree earned more than twice as much as those without a high school credential (103 percent more), 62 percent more than young adult high school completers, and 29 percent more than associate's degree holders. Additionally, in 2013 median earnings for young adults with a master's or higher degree were $59,600, some 23 percent more than median earnings for young adults with a bachelor's degree. This pattern of higher earnings associated with higher levels of educational attainment also held for both males and females and across racial/ ethnic groups (White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian).


Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers ages 25-34, by educational attainment: 2000–2013

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

1 Includes equivalency credentials, such as the General Educational Development (GED) credential.

NOTE: Earnings are presented in constant dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), to eliminate inflationary factors and to allow for direct comparison across years. Full-time year-round workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). The Condition of Education 2015 (NCES 2015-144), Annual Earnings of Young Adults.

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