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Income of young adults

Question:
What is the average income for young adults?

Response:
In 2012, some 64 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, 73 percent of young adults with a bachelor's degree worked full time, year round in 2012, compared with 60 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 who worked full time, year round varied by educational attainment. From 2002 to 2012, 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 dropped from 60 to 49 percent, and the corresponding percentage of those who had a high school credential was lower in 2012 than in 2002 (60 vs. 64 percent). However, the percentages of those with a bachelor's degree and of those with at least a master's degree who worked full time, year round did not change measurably between 2002 and 2012. Over a longer period, the percentage of young adult high school completers who worked full time, year round was also lower in 2012 (60 percent) than in 1995 (63 percent), but the corresponding percentage of those with a bachelor's degree was higher in 2012 (73 percent) than in 1995 (71 percent). For those who did not complete high school and those with at least a master's degree, the percentage who worked full time, year round did not change measurably between 1995 and 2012.

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 1995, 2000, 2002, and 2005 through 2012. For example, in 2012 the median of earnings for young adults with a bachelor's degree was $46,900, while the median was $22,900 for those without a high school credential and $30,000 for those with a high school credential. In other words, young adults with a bachelor's degree earned more than twice as much as those without a high school credential (105 percent more) and 57 percent more than young adult high school completers. Additionally, in 2012 the median of earnings for young adults with a master's degree or higher was $59,600, some 27 percent more than the median for young adults with a bachelor's degree. For the above years between 1995 and 2012, this pattern of higher earnings associated with higher levels of educational attainment also held across sex and racial/ ethnic subgroups (White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian).


Median annual earnings of full-time year-round wage and salary workers ages 25–34, by educational attainment: 1995–2012

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

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. (2014). The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014-083), Annual Earnings of Young Adults.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education