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Chapter 3. Employment-Related Characteristics

Indicator 27. Unemployment of Youth and Young Adults by Educational Attainment

In 2010, about 19 percent of the labor force ages 16 to 24 was unemployed, compared with 11 percent of those ages 25 to 29. The rate of youth and young adult unemployment varied by sex, race/ethnicity, and level of educational attainment. For instance, a higher percentage of 16- to 24-year-old males (22 percent) than females (15 percent) were unemployed. This pattern held true across levels of educational attainment.  For example, in 2010, about 33 percent of males without a high school diploma were unemployed, compared to 26 percent of females. Among adults ages 25 to 29, the unemployment rates for males were higher than those for females overall and for those who have completed high school or received a bachelor's or higher degree. For males and females of both age groups, lower unemployment rates were associated with higher levels of education. For all levels of educational attainment and all races/ethnicities, 16- to 24-year-olds had higher rates of unemployment than 25- to 29-year-olds.

 Looking at differences by race/ethnicity revealed that unemployment rates among 16- to 24-year-olds in 2010 were higher for American Indians/Alaska Natives (39 percent), Blacks (31 percent), Hispanics (21 percent), and persons of two or more races (25 percent) than for Whites (15 percent) and Asians (16 percent). Among 25- to 29-year-olds, Blacks had the highest unemployment rate (20 percent) followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives (17 percent), Hispanics (12 percent), persons of two or more races (11 percent), Whites (10 percent), and Asians (8 percent).

In general, lower unemployment rates were associated with higher levels of education overall and for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics in 2010. While the overall unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds was 19 percent, it was 30 percent for those without a high school diploma and 7 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree. Similarly, the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-old Blacks without a high school credential was 49 percent, compared with 32 percent for those with only a high school credential and 12 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree. The unemployment rate for Hispanics ages 16 to 24 who did not complete high school was 28 percent, compared with 12 percent for those who completed a bachelor's or higher degree. Patterns for adults ages 25 to 29 were similar to those of young adults ages 16 to 24. For example, 21 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds without a high school diploma were unemployed, compared with 5 percent of those with a bachelor's or higher degree.

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