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Income of young adults

Question:
What is the average income for young adults?

Response:

This Fast Fact examines the annual earnings of 25- to 34-year-olds who worked full time, year round (i.e., worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year). In 2018, some 74 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds who were in the labor force1 worked full time, year round. This percentage was generally higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, 80 percent of those with a bachelorís degree worked full time, year round in 2018, compared with 72 percent of high school completers (those with only a high school diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED) in this age group.

Changes over time in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds in the labor force who worked full time, year round varied by level of educational attainment. The percentage of labor force participants who worked full time, year round increased among those with a bachelorís degree (from 77 percent in 2000 to 80 percent in 2018) and those with a masterís or higher degree (from 73 percent in 2000 to 78 percent in 2018). At educational attainment levels lower than a bachelorís degree, there was no measurable difference between 2000 and 2018 in the percentage of labor force participants who worked full time, year round: those who did not complete high school (62 percent in 2018), those who completed high school (72 percent in 2018), those with some college but no degree (71 percent in 2018), and those with an associateís degree (73 percent in 2018).

For 25- to 34-year-olds who worked full time, year round, higher educational attainment was associated with higher median earnings; this pattern was consistent from 2000 through 2018. For example, in 2018, the median earnings of those with a masterís or higher degree were $65,000, some 19 percent higher than the earnings of those with a bachelorís degree ($54,700). In the same year, the median earnings of those with a bachelorís degree were 57 percent higher than the earnings of high school completers ($34,900), and the median earnings of high school completers were 25 percent higher than the earnings of those who did not complete high school ($27,900). This pattern of higher earnings associated with higher levels of educational attainment also held for both males and females, as well as for those who were White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian.


Median annual earnings of full-time, year-round workers ages 25–34, by educational attainment: 2000–2018

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

1 Includes equivalency credentials, such as the GED.

NOTE: Data are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities) and military barracks. Full-time, year-round workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year. Earnings are presented in constant 2018 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), to eliminate inflationary factors and to allow for direct comparison across years.


1The labor force consists of all civilians who are employed or seeking employment.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). The Condition of Education 2020 (NCES 2020-144), Annual Earnings.

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