Employment rates of college graduates

Question:
What information do you have on the employment rates of college graduates?

Response:
During the period from 2008 to 2010, the U.S. economy experienced a recession. For young adults ages 20 to 24, the employment rate was lower in 2008, when the recession began, than it was in 2000 (73.4 vs. 77.4 percent). The employment rate was even lower in 2010 (65.5 percent), after the end of the recession, than it was in 2008. While the employment rate for young adults was higher in 2014 (69.4 percent) than in 2010, the 2014 rate was still lower than the rate in 2008 or 2000.

The trend over time of the employment rate for adults ages 25 to 64 was similar to that for young adults ages 20 to 24. The rate for 25- to 64-year-olds was lower in 2010 (71.5 percent) than it was in either 2008 or 2000 (75.5 and 77.7 percent, respectively). The rate in 2014 (72.3 percent) was higher than it was in 2010 but lower than it was in 2008 or 2000. In addition, the employment rates in both 2014 and 2010, at each level of educational attainment for both age groups, were generally lower than the rate in 2008, when the recession began.

Generally, the employment rate was higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, in 2014, the employment rate for young adults ages 20 to 24 with a bachelor's degree or higher was higher than the rate for young adults with some college (88.1 vs. 75.0 percent). The employment rate for young adults with some college was higher than the rate for those who had completed high school (63.7 percent), which was, in turn, higher than the employment rate for those young adults who had not finished high school (46.6 percent). This pattern of employment rates being higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment was also seen for those 25 to 64 years old and for men as well as women in both age groups.

In addition to the employment rate being higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment, employment rates were generally higher for males than females at each level of educational attainment in 2014. The overall employment rate for young males 20 to 24 years old was higher than the rate for young females 20 to 24 years old (72.4 vs. 66.3 percent). It was also higher for young males with some college than for young females with the same level of educational attainment (78.6 vs. 71.6 percent). Similarly, the employment rate for young males who had completed high school was greater than the rate for young females who had completed high school (66.6 vs. 60.2 percent) and it was higher for young males who had not completed high school than for their female peers (58.3 vs. 30.5 percent). As with the younger cohort, the overall employment rate for males 25 to 64 years old was higher than the rate for females 25 to 64 years old (78.2 vs. 66.6 percent). This pattern held for older adults at each level of educational attainment, including those with a bachelor's degree or higher, which was not the case for young adults.


Unemployment rates, by age group and educational attainment: Selected years, 2000 through 2014

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

NOTE: The unemployment rate is the percentage of persons in the civilian labor force who are not working and who made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the prior 4 weeks. The civilian labor force consists of all civilians who are employed or seeking employment. Data for 20- to 24-year-olds exclude persons enrolled in school. The data for the "Some college, no bachelor's degree" category includes persons with no bachelor's degree as well as those with an associate's degree. High school completion includes equivalency credentials, such as the General Educational Development (GED) credential.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). The Condition of Education 2015 (NCES 2015-144), Employment Rates and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment .

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