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Executive Summary

Postsecondary Outcomes and Employment

Educational Attainment

Among the more than 41 million young adults ages 25 to 34 in 2010, a higher percentage of males than females had not completed high school (15 vs. 11 percent). This pattern by sex was also observed among White, Black, and Hispanic young adults, and among young adults of two or more races. Also, the percentage of young adults whose highest level of educational attainment was high school completion was higher for males than females both overall (28 vs. 21 percent) and for most racial/ ethnic groups (with the exception of Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders). In 2010, the percentage of young adults whose highest level of educational attainment was a bachelor's or higher degree was lower for males than for females overall (27 vs. 35 percent) as well as for Whites (33 vs. 42 percent), Blacks (15 vs. 23 percent), Hispanics (11 vs. 16 percent), and persons of two or more races (30 vs. 35 percent).

Labor Force Participation

Among young adults who had not completed high school, a higher percentage of males than females were employed (63 vs. 40 percent), a pattern that held for Whites and Hispanics with this level of educational attainment. Among males who had not completed high school, a higher percentage of Hispanics (77 percent) were employed than White (55 percent) or Black males (28 percent). Also, a higher percentage of White males than Black males in this group were employed.

Among young adults whose highest level of educational attainment was high school completion, 67 percent were employed in 2010 overall, with a higher rate of employment for males than for females (72 vs. 60 percent). This difference by sex was also observed among Whites and Hispanics. Among males, a lower percentage of Blacks (52 percent) were employed, compared to Whites (74 percent), Hispanics (78 percent), and Asians (76 percent).

For young adults whose highest level of attainment was at least a bachelor's degree, 85 percent were employed in 2010 overall, with a higher employment rate for males than for females (89 vs. 82 percent). In addition, higher percentages of White, Hispanic, and Asian males than females with a bachelor's or higher degree were employed.

Figure 7. Median annual earnings of full-time, full-year wage and salary workers ages 25 to 34, by sex, race/ethnicity, and highest level of educational attainment: 2010

Median Earnings and Employment of Young Adults With STEM Degrees

The 2010 median annual earnings of young adults ages 25 to 34 who worked full time throughout a full year were $36,200. Median earnings for males whose highest level of educational attainment was high school completion exceeded those for females by about $5,100 ($30,200 vs. $25,100). Median earnings were also higher for male than female high school completers among Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. Median annual earnings for young adults with a bachelor's or higher degree were $50,300 in 2010, and male earnings for this group exceeded female earnings by about $9,100 ($54,400 vs. $45,300); this difference by sex was also observed among Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and young adults of two or more races.

Median earnings for young adults with a bachelor's or higher degree in a STEM field (STEM graduates) were $58,200, about $7,900 higher than the overall average for young adults with a bachelor's or higher degree in any field. Male earnings for STEM graduates exceeded those for females by about $8,200 ($60,400 vs. $52,200). This pattern by sex also held for Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and young adults of two or more races. Among males, STEM earnings for Asians ($69,900) were higher than earnings for White males ($60,400), males of two or more races ($60,400), Hispanic males ($53,300), Black males ($51,800), and American Indian males ($43,800).

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