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Indicator 30: Earnings and Employment
(Last Updated: February 2019)

In 2016, among those with a bachelor’s or higher degree, Asian full-time, year-round workers ages 25–34 had higher median annual earnings ($69,100) than their White peers ($54,700), and median earnings for both racial/ethnic groups were higher than those of their Black ($49,400) and Hispanic ($49,300) peers.

In 2016, economic outcomes for 25- to 34-year-olds varied by educational attainment and race/ethnicity. This indicator discusses the median annual earnings of full-time, year-round1 25- to 34-year-old workers and the percentage of the to 34-year-old labor force2 who worked full time, year round across different racial/ethnic backgrounds and levels of educational attainment.


Figure 30.1. Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old, by race/ethnicity: 2016

Figure 30.1. Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old, by race/ethnicity: 2016


NOTE: Full-time year-round workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year. Data are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities); data include military personnel who live in households with civilians, but exclude those who live in military barracks. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), “Annual Social and Economic Supplement,” 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 502.30.


Although the 2016 median earnings of full-time, year-round workers ages 2534 were $40,000, median earnings varied by racial/ethnic group. Asian full-time workers ages 2534 had the highest median earnings ($54,600) of any racial/ethnic group. In addition, the median earnings of White full-time, year-round workers ages 2534 ($44,900) were higher than those of American Indian/Alaska Native ($35,900), Pacific Islander ($34,200), Hispanic ($33,900), and Black full-time workers ($33,700). Median earnings of full-time workers ages 2534 of Two or more races ($41,700) were not measurably different from those of their White and American Indian/Alaska Native peers; however, the median earnings of full-time workers of Two or more races were higher than those of Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Black full-time workers.


Figure 30.2. Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old, by educational attainment and race/ethnicity: 2016

Figure 30.2. Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old, by educational attainment and race/ethnicity: 2016


‡ Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Includes equivalency credentials, such as the General Educational Development (GED) credential.
NOTE: Full-time year-round workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year. Data are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities); data include military personnel who live in households with civilians, but exclude those who live in military barracks. Total includes other racial/ethnic groups not separately shown, including Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native. Median annual earnings by educational attainment for Pacific Islander young adults and American Indian/Alaska Native young adults are not available because these data did not meet reporting standards. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), “Annual Social and Economic Supplement,” 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 502.30.


Higher levels of educational attainment were generally associated with higher median earnings for full-time, year-round workers ages 2534 in 2016.3 For example, the median earnings of full-time workers who had not completed high school ($25,400) were lower than the median earnings of those who had ($31,800). Both groups had lower median earnings than did full-time workers with an associate’s degree ($38,000), and full-time workers with a bachelor’s or higher degree had the highest median earnings ($54,800). This same pattern was observed for White and Hispanic full-time workers.4 A similar pattern was also observed for Black full-time workers, with the exception that the median earnings of those who had completed high school and those with an associate’s degree were not measurably different. The median earnings for Asian full-time workers ages 2534 with and without a high school credential ($29,100 and $26,400, respectively) were not measurably different; however, median earnings for both groups were lower than for those with an associate’s degree ($39,600) and those with a bachelor’s or higher degree ($69,100). Data on median earnings for those of Two or more races who had not completed high school did not meet reporting standards; however, the median earnings of full-time workers of Two or more races who had completed high school ($32,500) were not measurably different from the median earnings of those with an associate’s degree, but were lower than the median earnings of those with a bachelor’s or higher degree ($57,000).

In 2016, median annual earnings of full-time workers ages 2534 differed by race/ethnicity at most levels of educational attainment. For example, the median earnings of White full-time workers who had not completed high school ($29,100) were higher than the median earnings of their Hispanic peers ($25,000), and both racial/ethnic groups had higher median earnings than Black full-time workers ($21,400). Among those who had completed high school, median earnings of White full-time workers ($35,000) were higher than the median earnings of their Hispanic ($30,000), Asian ($29,100), and Black ($27,800) peers. Among those with an associate’s degree, median earnings of full-time workers who were of Two or more races ($45,000), White ($39,700), Asian ($39,600), and Hispanic ($34,900) were higher than the median earnings of their Black peers ($30,400), and the median earnings of White full-time workers were also higher than those of their Hispanic peers. Among those with a bachelor’s or higher degree, Asian full-time workers had higher median earnings ($69,100) than did their White peers ($54,700), and median earnings for both racial/ethnic groups were higher than those of their Black ($49,400) and Hispanic ($49,300) peers. Median earnings of full-time workers of Two or more races with a bachelor’s or higher degree ($57,000) were not measurably different from those of their Asian, White, Black, or Hispanic peers.


Figure 30.3. Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old with a bachelor’s or higher degree, by educational attainment and race/ethnicity: 2016

Figure 30.3. Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old with a bachelor’s or higher degree, by educational attainment and race/ethnicity: 2016


NOTE: Full-time year-round workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year. Data are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities); data include military personnel who live in households with civilians, but exclude those who live in military barracks. Total includes other racial/ethnic groups not separately shown, including Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native. Median annual earnings by educational attainment for Pacific Islander young adults and American Indian/Alaska Native young adults are not available because these data did not meet reporting standards. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS),“Annual Social and Economic Supplement,” 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 502.30.


As noted above, median earnings of White full-time workers ages 2534 who worked full time, year round in 2016 exceeded the corresponding median earnings of Black and Hispanic full-time workers at most attainment levels, including at the combined bachelor’s or higher degree attainment level. However, different patterns were observed in median earnings among White, Black, and Hispanic full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree only and a Master’s or higher degree. Among those with a bachelor’s degree only, Asian full-time workers had higher median earnings ($59,700) than White ($50,000), Black ($45,800), and Hispanic ($44,700) full-time workers, and median earnings were also higher for White than for Hispanic full-time workers. However, median earnings of Black full-time workers were not measurably different from those of White and Hispanic full-time workers. Among those with a master’s or higher degree, Asian full-time workers had higher median earnings ($80,500) than White ($61,100), Black ($59,600), and Hispanic ($55,700) full-time workers. Unlike the pattern observed for lower attainment levels, the median earnings of White, Black, and Hispanic full-time workers with a Master’s or higher degree were not measurably different.


Figure 30.4. Percentage of the labor force ages 2534 who worked full time, year round, by educational attainment and race/ethnicity: 2016

Figure 30.4. Percentage of the labor force ages 2534 who worked full time, year round, by educational attainment and race/ethnicity: 2016


‡ Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Includes equivalency credentials, such as the GED credential.
NOTE: Full-time year-round workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year. Data are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities); data include military personnel who live in households with civilians, but exclude those who live in military barracks. Total includes other racial/ethnic groups not separately shown, including Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native. Full-time employment rates by educational attainment for Pacific Islander young adults and American Indian/Alaska Native young adults are not available because these data did not meet reporting standards. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), “Annual Social and Economic Supplement,” 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 502.30.


In 2016, the percentage of the 25- to 34-year-old labor force who worked full time differed by race/ethnicity for those with lower levels of educational attainment. For example, among those who had not completed high school, the percentage of the labor force who worked full time was higher for Asian (78 percent) and Hispanic 25- to 34-year-olds (65 percent) than for their White peers (58 percent), and all three groups had higher percentages of full-time workers than did Black 25- to 34-year-olds (39 percent). Among those who had completed high school, the percentage of the labor force who worked full time was higher for Asian 25- to 34-year-olds (80 percent) than for their Hispanic peers (72 percent), and both groups had higher percentages of full-time workers than did their peers who were White (68 percent), Black (66 percent), and of Two or more races (55 percent). In contrast, among those with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s or higher degree, there were no measurable differences across racial/ethnic groups in the percentages of 25- to 34-year-olds who worked full time.

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Endnotes

1 “Full time, year round” is used interchangeably with the shortened form “full time.” It refers to those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks per year.
2 The labor force consists of those who reported working or looking for work.
3 Differences in earnings may also reflect other factors, such as differences in occupation.
4 Median annual earnings and employment rates by educational attainment for Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native full-time year-round workers ages 2534 are not available because these data did not meet reporting standards.