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Income of young adults

Question:
What is the average income for young adults?

Response:

In 2015, some 71 percent of young adults ages 25–34 who were in the labor force worked full time, year round. The percentage of young adults in the labor force working full time, year round was generally higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, 78 percent of young adults with a bachelor's degree worked full time, year round in 2015, compared with 69 percent of young adult high school completers (those with only a high school diploma or its equivalent).

Changes over time in the percentage of young adults in the labor force who worked full time, year round varied by level of educational attainment. From 2000 to 2015, the percentage of young adult high school completers who worked full time, year round decreased from 71 to 69 percent. The corresponding percentage for young adults with an associate's degree decreased from 75 to 69 percent. In contrast, the percentage of young adults with a master's or higher degree who worked full time, year round increased from 73 to 76 percent during the same period. However, in 2015 the percentages of young adults who did not complete high school (i.e., without a high school diploma or its equivalent) (59 percent) and those with a bachelor's degree (78 percent) who worked full time, year round were not measurably different from the corresponding percentages in 2000. Between 2014 and 2015, the percentages of young adults working full time, year round did not change measurably for any individual level of educational attainment.

For young adults ages 25–34 who worked full time, year round, higher educational attainment was associated with higher median earnings;1 this pattern was consistent from 2000 through 2015. For example, in 2015 the median earnings of young adults with a bachelor's degree ($50,000) were 64 percent higher than those of young adult high school completers ($30,500). The median earnings of young adult high school completers were 22 percent higher than those of young adults who did not complete high school ($25,000). In addition, median earnings of young adults with a master's or higher degree were $60,000 in 2015, some 20 percent higher than those of young adults with a bachelor's degree. This pattern of higher earnings associated with higher levels of educational attainment also held for both male and female young adults as well as for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian young adults.


Percentage of the labor force ages 25–34 who worked full time, year round, by educational attainment: 2000–2015

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

1 Includes equivalency credentials, such as the GED credential.

NOTE: Data are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons 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.


1Differences in earnings may also reflect other factors, such as differences in occupation. Please see the Employment Outcomes of Bachelor's Degree Recipients indicator.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). The Condition of Education 2017 (NCES 2017-144), Annual Earnings of Young Adults.

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