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Statistical Analysis Report:

Continuity of Early Employment among 1980 High School Sophomores

September 1997

(NCES 97-303) Ordering information


This report uses the 1980 Sophomore Cohort of the High School and Beyond (HS&B) study to examine the employment stability in the first 18 months after graduation of those gradu-ates whose highest credential was a high school diploma, an associate's degree, or a bachelor's degree. Data were collected in 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, and 1992; therefore, questions concern-ing employment and enrollment after 1986 were by necessity retrospective. Recipients of each type of credential with 6 or more months of postsecondary education after attainment of their highest degree by 1992 were also excluded. This was done to ensure that postsecondary experi-ences after degree attainment would not significantly affect the transition into the labor force or employment outcomes. Continuity of early employment is discussed in relation to educational attainment, demo-graphic characteristics, family formation, academic experiences, and earlier work history. The fi-nal section of the report reviews the labor market experiences of the cohort as much as 10 years after high school graduation in order to identify associations between initial employment stability and long-term labor market patterns.
  • High school graduates were less likely to be employed, and more likely to have longer periods of time not working, than were associate's and bachelor's degree recipients. The percentage of recent graduates who were continuously employed for the first 18 months after graduating increased with education, from 29 percent of high school graduates to 54 percent of associate's degree recipients to 62 percent of bachelor's de-gree recipients.

  • High school graduates who were continuously or sporadically employed in the first 18 months after graduation earned more Carnegie credits in math and English, more total academic credits, and more Carnegie credits overall than high school graduates who were not employed (17 to 18 credits versus 15 credits overall).

  • Among associate's degree recipients, those who were continuously employed earned about the same number of postsecondary credits in humanities, business, calculus and advanced math, and computer-related courses as those who were sporadically em-ployed. The one difference observed was in remedial coursework: those who were con-tinuously employed took slightly fewer (1.5, on average) remedial courses than those who were sporadically employed (2.0 courses, on average). Bachelor's degree holders also took similar numbers of postsecondary credits in each of the subject areas men-tioned above, as well as similar numbers of remedial courses, across all employment status categories.

  • Among high school graduates, the likelihood of being continuously employed after graduation increased with the number of hours they worked per week in their junior year.

  • Women with a high school education who had children by 1984 were less likely to be continuously employed in the first 18 months following graduation than those who had not had children by that time. Having children was not associated with employment continuity for men.

  • About 35 percent of male high school graduates were continuously employed, com-pared with 22 percent of females with a similar level of education. In contrast, among associate's and bachelor's degree holders, similar proportions of men and women were continuously employed.

  • High school graduates who were not employed at any time during the first 18 months following graduation earned approximately $15,700 in 1991, while those who were ini-tially continuously employed earned $21,700 and those who were sporadically em-ployed earned $18,500.

  • One-third of graduates whose highest level of educational attainment was a high school diploma had received employer-provided training in 1991-92, compared with 43 per-cent of their peers with associate's degrees and 59 percent with bachelor's degrees.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education