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Employment rates of young adults

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This Fast Fact examines recent trends in the employment rate. The employment rate (also known as the employment-to-population ratio) is the percentage of persons in the civilian noninstitutionalized population who are employed.1 It is important to note that the reference period for each year of data is March, meaning that 2019 data represent the status of the labor market before the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 data represent the status of the labor market at the onset of the pandemic in the United States, and 2021 and 2022 data represent the status of the labor market roughly one year and two years into the pandemic, respectively.

In 2022, some 80 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds were employed. The employment rate was higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, the overall employment rate was

The same pattern was observed for both sexes. For example, the employment rate for females was highest for those with a bachelor’s or higher degree (85 percent) and lowest for those who had not completed high school (44 percent).

Employment rates were higher for 25- to 34-year-old males (85 percent) than for their female peers (75 percent) in 2022. This difference in employment rates between males and females is called a gender gap. In 2022, the gender gap existed at each level of educational attainment but was smaller at higher levels of educational attainment. For instance, the gender gap was

Recent trends in employment rates have been shaped by the recovery from the 2008 recession2 and the coronavirus pandemic. During the pandemic—from 2020 to 2022—overall employment for 25- to 34-year-olds was lowest in 2021 (76 percent).3 At all levels of educational attainment, the employment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds in 2022 was higher than the rate in 2021. With this rebound from 2021 to 2022, the 2022 employment rates for 25- to 34-year-olds at all levels of educational attainment were not measurably different from the rates in 2019, the year immediately before the pandemic. For example, among 25- to 34-year-olds whose highest level of educational attainment was high school completion,4 employment rates were 74 percent in 2019, then 68 percent in 2021, and then 73 percent in 2022.

1 Data in this Fast Fact are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities) and all military personnel.
2 National Bureau of Economic Research. (2021). U.S. Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions. Retrieved November 17, 2022, from
3 Caution should be used when comparing 2020, 2021, and 2022 estimates with those of prior years due to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on interviewing and response rates. For additional information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Current Population Survey data collection, please see
4 Completed high school includes those who completed high school through equivalency programs, such as a GED program.

SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Employment and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from

Numbers in figure titles reflect original numeration from source Condition of Education indicators.

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