America's Young Adults at 27: Labor Market Activity, Education, and Household Composition: Results From a Longitudinal Survey Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, March 26, 2014 				USDL-14-0491

Technical information:	(202) 691-7410    nls_info@bls.gov    www.bls.gov/nls
Media contact:		(202) 691-5902    PressOffice@bls.gov


	AMERICA'S YOUNG ADULTS AT 27: LABOR MARKET ACTIVITY, EDUCATION,
	AND HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION: RESULTS FROM A LONGITUDINAL SURVEY


Young adults born in the early 1980s held an average of 6.2 jobs from age 18 through age 26,
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over two-thirds of these jobs were held
from ages 18 to 22. Women with more education held more jobs than women with less education.
Regardless of education, men held a similar number of jobs. 

These findings are from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, a nationally 
representative survey of about 9,000 young men and women who were born during the years 1980
to 1984. These respondents were ages 12 to 17 when first interviewed in 1997, and ages 26 to
32 when interviewed for the 15th time in 2011-12. The survey provides information on work and
nonwork experiences, training, schooling, income, assets, and other characteristics. The
information provided by respondents is representative of all men and women born in the early
1980s and living in the United States when the survey began in 1997.

This release focuses on the educational attainment, employment experiences, and household
composition of these individuals from their 18th birthday until they turned 27. Highlights
from the longitudinal survey include:

  By 27 years of age, 32 percent of women had received a bachelor's degree, compared with
   24 percent of men. Nine percent of men were high school dropouts compared to 8 percent of
   women. (See table 1.)

  Individuals born from 1980 to 1984 held an average of 6.2 jobs from ages 18 to 26. The
   number of jobs held varies by education for women but not for men. (See table 2.)

  High school graduates who had never enrolled in college were employed an average of 68
   percent of the weeks from ages 18 to 22, and 74 percent of weeks from ages 23 to 26. In
   comparison, those who had dropped out of high school were employed 51 percent of weeks
   from ages 18 to 22, and 57 percent of weeks from ages 23 to 26. (See table 3.)

  Over two-thirds of the jobs held by high school dropouts from age 18 to 26 were held less
   than a year and 10 percent were held 2 years or more. For those with a bachelor's degree
   or more, approximately 50 percent of jobs were held less than a year and 14 percent held
   2 years or more. (See table 4.)
	
  Thirty-four percent of young adults were married at age 27, while 20 percent were cohabiting
   and 47 percent were single. On average, young adults with more education were more likely
   to be married and less likely to be cohabiting. (See table 5.)

  Young adults who were single at age 27 were employed 70 percent of the weeks from ages 18 to
   26, compared to 77 percent of weeks for those who were married and 72 percent of weeks, for
   those who were cohabiting. (See table 6.)

  Nearly 41 percent of young adults had their own or their partner's child in the household
   at age 27. Sixty-five percent of married individuals had at least one child in the home,
   compared with 21 percent of single individuals and 48 percent of those who were cohabiting.
   (See table 7.)

  Women with children in their household at age 27 were employed 65 percent of weeks from age
   18 to 26 compared to 76 percent of weeks for women without children in their home. Conversely,
   men tended to work more weeks if they had children in the household than if they did not (79
   percent of weeks versus 73 percent).  (See table 8.)

Educational Attainment at age 27

At 27 years of age, 28 percent of individuals had received their bachelor's degree while 38 percent had
attended some college or received an associate's degree. Eighteen percent of 27 year-olds had a high
school diploma and no further schooling, and 7 percent had earned a General Educational Development(GED)
credential and no further schooling. (See table 1.)

Women were more likely than men to have received a bachelor's degree. Thirty-two percent of women had
earned a bachelor's degree, compared with 24 percent of men. In total, 70 percent of women had either
attended some college or received a bachelor's degree, compared to 61 percent of men. In addition to
being more likely to attend college, women were more likely to have finished their college degree. Of
the 70 percent of women who started college, 46 percent completed their bachelor's degree by age 27.
In comparison, of the 61 percent of men who started college, 39 percent had completed their bachelor's
degree.

At age 27, there was a large difference in educational attainment among racial and ethnic groups.
Non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites not to have obtained a high school
diploma. In comparison, whites were more than twice as likely as blacks or Hispanics to have received
their bachelor's degree by this age. Thirty-three percent of whites had received their bachelor's
degree at age 27, compared with 15 percent of blacks or Hispanics. Among those who had attended college,
whites were more likely than blacks or Hispanics to have received a bachelor's degree. Just over
one-quarter of blacks and Hispanics who had attended college had received a bachelor's degree by age 27,
compared to nearly one-half of whites.

Employment Attachment of Young Adults from age 18 through age 26 

Individuals had an average of 6.2 jobs from the ages of 18 through 26 in 1998-2011. On average, men
held 6.0 jobs and women held 6.3 jobs. (See table 2.) In this news release, a job is defined as a
period of work, including gaps, with a particular employer. (See the Technical Note for additional
information on the definition of a job.)

On average, young adults were employed during 73 percent of all the weeks occurring from age 18 through
age 26. They were unemployed--that is, without jobs but seeking work--6 percent of the weeks. They were
not in the labor force--that is, neither working nor seeking work--21 percent of the weeks. 

Overall, men at these ages spent more time employed and less time out of the labor force than women,
but this varied greatly by education. Men with less than a high school diploma spent 62 percent of
weeks employed from ages 18 to 26. In comparison, women with less than a high school diploma spent
43 percent of weeks employed. Women without a high school diploma spent 47 percent of weeks from ages
18 to 26 out of the labor force, more weeks than they did employed. Women with a bachelor's degree or
more education spent a larger proportion of weeks employed than did similarly educated men (77 percent
versus 71 percent) and less time out of the labor force (20 percent versus 26 percent).

The amount of time employed also differed between educational-attainment groups by race, especially
among blacks. From ages 18 to 26, blacks with less than a high school diploma were employed 39 percent
of all weeks. In comparison, black high school graduates who had never enrolled in college were employed
59 percent of weeks, and blacks with a bachelor's degree or more education were employed 71 percent of
weeks from ages 18 to 26. 

Examining these data by smaller age ranges reveals that despite being in the labor force a greater
percentage of weeks, individuals held fewer jobs from ages 23 to 26 than they did from ages 18 to 22.
While ages 18 to 22, individuals held an average of 4.3 jobs and were out of the labor force 26
percent of weeks. From ages 23 to 26, individuals held 2.7 jobs while being out of the labor force
16 percent of weeks. This pattern was similar for all gender, racial, and ethnic groups at all levels
of educational attainment. (See table 3.)

Employment differences by education began early in workers' careers. From ages 18 to 22, high school
dropouts were employed 51 percent of weeks, and out of the labor force 36 percent of weeks. In
comparison, high school graduates worked 68 percent of weeks from ages 18 to 22, and were out of
the labor force for 23 percent of weeks. This pattern persisted at later ages. From ages 23 to 26,
high school dropouts worked 57 percent of weeks and were out of the labor force for 32 percent of
weeks, compared to high school graduates, who worked 74 percent of weeks and were out of the labor
force 19 percent of weeks. The labor force participation of college graduates underwent the greatest
change. For college graduates, the percent of weeks worked rose from 66 percent at ages 18 to 22, to
85 percent at ages 23 to 26. These individuals spent 31 percent of weeks out of the labor force from
ages 18 to 22, but only 12 percent of weeks out of the labor force from ages 23 to 26, less than all
other educational attainment categories.

The racial employment gap was more pronounced at lower levels of educational attainment. From ages 23
to 26, white dropouts spent 59 percent of weeks employed and 29 percent of weeks out of the labor force,
while black dropouts spent 44 percent of weeks employed and 42 percent of weeks out of the labor force.
This difference is much smaller among those who held a bachelor's degree. At the same ages, white
college graduates spent 11 percent of weeks out of the labor force and 86 percent of weeks employed
and black college graduates spent 11 percent of weeks out of the labor force and 84 percent of weeks
employed. 

Duration of Employment Relationships

By their 27th birthday, nearly all young adults had held at least one job since age 18. Most jobs
held through age 26 were of relatively short duration. Of the jobs held by 18- to 26-year-old workers,
57 percent ended in 1 year or less, and another 14 percent ended in less than 2 years. Thirteen
percent of jobs lasted 2 years or more. Another 16 percent of jobs were ongoing at the time of the
2011-12 survey, and their ultimate duration is therefore not yet known. (See table 4.) 

Jobs held by high school dropouts were more likely to end in 1 year or less than were jobs held by
workers with more education. In particular, of the jobs held by female high school dropouts, 70 percent
ended in 1 year or less, while 9 percent lasted 2 years or more.  Nearly 7 percent of female high
school dropouts had never held a job since age 18.

Partner Status and Employment Attachment 

At 27 years of age, 34 percent of young adults were married, 20 percent were unmarried and living
with a partner, and 47 percent were single, that is, not married or living with a partner. Young
adults with more education were less likely to be cohabiting and more likely to be married than
those with less education. Twenty-eight percent of high school dropouts were cohabiting and 27
percent were married, while 15 percent of college graduates were cohabiting and 37 percent were
married. (See table 5.)

Partner status varied greatly by race and ethnicity. While 41 percent of whites were single and
39 percent were married, 68 percent of blacks were single and 15 percent were married. 

Partner status at age 27 had a strong association with employment between the ages of 18 and 26.
Compared to young adults who were single at 27, young adults who were married worked more weeks
from ages 18 to 26, and spent fewer weeks unemployed or not in the labor force. Single young
adults spent 70 percent of weeks from ages 18 to 26 employed, 7 percent of weeks unemployed,
and 23 percent of weeks out of the labor force, while those who were married spent 77 percent
of weeks employed, 5 percent of weeks unemployed, and 19 percent of weeks not in the labor force.
This trend held true for all educational attainment levels. (See table 6.)

Married men worked more weeks than either single or cohabiting men and were more likely to be
in the labor force. Married men spent 82 percent of the weeks between 18 and 26 employed, compared
to 70 percent for single men and 75 percent for cohabiting men. Married men also spent 5 percent
of weeks unemployed and 13 percent of weeks not in the labor force, compared to single men, who
spent 8 percent of weeks unemployed and 22 percent of weeks not in the labor force. Cohabiting
men spent 8 percent of weeks unemployed and 18 percent of weeks not in the labor force. 

There were limited differences in the labor force attachment of women by partner status with no
difference between single and cohabiting women, and little difference between married and single
women. 

Children and Employment Attachment

Approximately 41 percent of young adults had their own or a partner's child living in the
household at age 27, although this varied greatly by sex; 52 percent of women had a child
in the home compared to 29 percent of men. The likelihood of having a child in the home also
varied by partner status and educational attainment. Young adults who were married at 27 were
the most likely to have their own or partner's child in the home; 65 percent, compared to 21
percent of single young adults and 48 percent of cohabiting young adults. Single men were
the least likely to have a child in their home; only 5 percent of single men compared to 41
percent of single women. (See table 7.) 

Men who were living with their own or a partner's child when age 27 worked more weeks between
the ages of 18 and 26 than other men. Compared to young men without children in their home,
young men with children in the home worked more weeks (79 percent of weeks versus 73 percent)
and were less likely to not be in the labor force (14 percent versus 21 percent).  The opposite
was true for women. Women with their own or partner's children in the home were employed fewer
weeks than those without children in the home, 65 percent of weeks compared to 76 percent of
weeks. Women with their own or partner's children were more likely to not be in the labor force
from age 18 to 26 compared to women of the same age without children in the home (28 percent of
weeks versus 19 percent of weeks). (See table 8.)



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Last Modified Date: March 26, 2014