This chapter contains tables comparing educational attainment and workforce characteristics. The data show labor force participation and income levels of high school dropouts and high school and college graduates. Population characteristics are provided for many of the measures to help provide comparisons among various demographic groups. Tables 374, 375 and 376 contain data from the U.S. Census Bureau on educational attainment of the labor force and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment and unemployment. These tables provide information on the educational attainment of the labor force, by occupation, sex, race/ethnicity, and unemployment rates. Tables 377 and 378 provide an income comparison by education level and sex.
Tables 381 and 382, compiled from Bureau of Labor Statistics data on high school completers and dropouts, show the labor force participation and college enrollment of high school students within the year after they leave school. The tabulations also provide comparative labor force participation and unemployment rates for high school completers and dropouts. Additional information on college enrollment rates by race/ethnicity and sex has been included to help form a more complete picture of high school outcomes. Tables 384, 385, 386, and 387 were prepared from the Recent College Graduates and Baccalaureate and Beyond surveys by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). These tables provide data on employment outcomes and salaries for college graduates 1 year after graduation. The last tables in this chapter deal with community service, drug use, and life values of high school seniors and young adults.
Statistics related to outcomes of education appear in other sections of the Digest. For example, statistics on educational attainment of the entire population are in chapter 1. More detailed data on the numbers of high school and college graduates are contained in chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 3 contains trend data on the proportion of high school completers going to college. Additional data on the income of persons by educational attainment may be obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau in the Current Population Reports, Series P 60. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a series of publications dealing with the educational characteristics of the labor force. Further information on survey methodologies is in Appendix A: Guide to Sources and in the publications cited in the table source notes.
Adults with higher levels of education were generally more likely to participate in the labor force than adults with less education (table 374 and figure 21). (Persons participating in the labor force are those employed or actively seeking employment.) Among persons 25 to 64 years old, about 86 percent of those with a bachelor's or higher degree participated in the labor force in 2005, compared with 76 percent of those who had completed only high school. In comparison, 63 percent of those 25 to 64 who had not completed high school were in the labor force. The 2005 labor force participation rate for those ages 25 to 64 who completed only high school was higher for Hispanics (79 percent) than for Blacks (75 percent), but neither the Hispanic nor Black rate was substantially different from the White rate (77 percent) (table 374). Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics ages 25 to 64 with a bachelor's or higher degree had labor force participation rates that were about the same (86 to 87 percent).
Persons with lower levels of educational attainment were generally more likely to be unemployed than those with higher levels of educational attainment (table 375). The 2005 unemployment rate for adults (25 years old and over) who had not completed high school was 7.6 percent, compared with 4.7 percent for those who had completed high school and 2.3 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree (figure 22). Younger people who completed only high school tended to have higher unemployment rates than persons 25 years old and over who completed only high school (table 375).
The relative difficulties dropouts have in entering the job market are highlighted by comparing their labor force participation and unemployment rates to those of other youth. Of the 2005 high school completers who were not in college in October 2005, 78 percent were in the labor force (employed or looking for work), and 21 percent of those in the labor force were looking for work (table 381). In comparison, about 57 percent of 2004–05 dropouts were in the labor force in October 2005, and 33 percent of those in the labor force were looking for work (table 382 and figure 23).
One year after graduating from college in 1999–2000, 87 percent of individuals receiving bachelor's degrees were employed (77 percent full time and 11 percent part time), 6 percent were unemployed, and 6 percent were not in the labor force (table 385).
The median annual income of male full-time year-round workers, when adjusted for inflation, increased between 1995 and 1999, but decreased between 1999 and 2005 (table 377). Income for females rose between 1995 and 2001, but then declined between 2001 and 2005, for a net increase of 4 percent for the entire period. Women's incomes remained lower than men's incomes overall, as well as by education level. For example, the average 2005 income for full-time year-round workers with a bachelor's degree was $60,020 for men and $42,172 for women.