Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Economic News Release
PRINT:Print
CPS CPS Program Links

College Enrollment and Work Activity of Recent High School and College Graduates Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Tuesday, April 27, 2021			     USDL-21-0721

Technical information:	cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:		(202) 691-5902   *  PressOffice@bls.gov


			COLLEGE ENROLLMENT AND WORK ACTIVITY OF 
		    RECENT HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE GRADUATES -- 2020


In October 2020, 62.7 percent of 2020 high school graduates ages 16 to 24 were enrolled
in colleges or universities, down from 66.2 percent in the prior year, the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics reported today. Among 20- to 29-year-olds who received a bachelor's
degree in 2020, 67.3 percent were employed, down from 76.0 percent in 2019. These 
changes reflect the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Information on school enrollment and employment status is collected monthly in the 
Current Population Survey (CPS), a nationwide survey of about 60,000 households that 
provides information on employment and unemployment. Each October, a supplement to the
CPS gathers more detailed information about recent degree recipients and school 
enrollment. In addition to data on recent high school graduates ages 16 to 24, this 
news release presents information on recent degree recipients ages 20 to 29. For more 
information, see the Technical Note in this news release. 

Following are some highlights from the October 2020 data:

   --Among recent high school graduates ages 16 to 24, college enrollment rates for 
     men and women were 59.3 percent and 66.2 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

   --Among 16- to 24-year-olds, 47.5 percent of recent high school dropouts were
     working or looking for work, lower than the labor force participation rate of 
     67.2 percent for recent high school graduates not enrolled in college. (See 
     table 1.)

   --About 16.5 million persons ages 16 to 24 were not enrolled in school--43.9 
     percent of all persons in this age group. (See table 2.)

   --Among 20- to 29-year-olds, 59.2 percent of recent associate degree recipients,
     67.3 percent of recent bachelor's degree recipients, and 74.7 percent of recent
     advanced degree recipients were employed. (See table 3.)

   --About one-fourth of recent bachelor's degree recipients ages 20 to 29 were 
     enrolled in school. (See table 3.)

   --Among 20- to 29-year-olds, unemployment rates for recent associate degree 
     recipients, recent bachelor's degree recipients, and recent advanced degree 
     recipients were 15.8 percent, 12.8 percent, and 12.6 percent, respectively. 
     (See table 3.) 

Recent High School Graduates and Dropouts (Ages 16 to 24)

Of the 3.1 million youth ages 16 to 24 who graduated from high school between January
and October 2020, 2.0 million (62.7 percent) were enrolled in college in October. The
college enrollment rate of recent high school graduates in October 2020 was down from
the rate of 66.2 percent in October 2019. (See table 1.)

Among 2020 high school graduates ages 16 to 24, the college enrollment rate for young
women, at 66.2 percent in October 2020, continued to be higher than the rate for 
young men (59.3 percent). The college enrollment rate of Asians (83.2 percent) also 
continued to be higher than the rates for recent White (62.9 percent), Black (56.6 
percent), and Hispanic (56.2 percent) graduates. 

The labor force participation rate (the proportion of the population that is employed
or looking for work) for recent high school graduates enrolled in college in October
2020 was 33.0 percent. The participation rates for male and female graduates enrolled
in college were 27.7 percent and 37.9 percent, respectively.

Among recent high school graduates enrolled in college in October 2020, about 9 in 10
were full-time students. Recent graduates enrolled as full-time students were less 
than half as likely to be in the labor force (30.4 percent) as were their peers 
enrolled part time (67.5 percent).

About 2 in 3 recent high school graduates enrolled in college attended 4-year colleges.
Of these students, 24.8 percent participated in the labor force in October 2020, lower
than the 50.7 percent for recent graduates enrolled in 2-year colleges.

Recent high school graduates not enrolled in college in October 2020 were much more 
likely than enrolled graduates to be in the labor force (67.2 percent versus 33.0 
percent). For both groups, labor force participation declined from the prior year. 
The unemployment rate for recent high school graduates not enrolled in college was 
19.5 percent in October 2020, higher than the rate of 13.8 percent for recent 
graduates enrolled in college.

Between October 2019 and October 2020, 575,000 young persons dropped out of high school.
While the labor force participation rate for recent dropouts, at 47.5 percent in October
2020, increased over the year, it remained much lower than the rate for recent high
school graduates not enrolled in college (67.2 percent). The jobless rate for recent 
high school dropouts was 7.5 percent in October 2020, compared with 19.5 percent for 
recent high school graduates not enrolled in college.

All Youth Enrolled in High School or College (Ages 16 to 24)

In October 2020, 21.0 million 16- to 24-year-olds, or 56.1 percent of youth, were 
enrolled in high school (9.2 million) or in college (11.8 million). The labor force
participation rate for youth enrolled in school, at 36.0 percent in October 2020,
decreased over the year. The unemployment rate (11.3 percent) for youth enrolled
in school increased from the previous year. (See table 2.)

In October 2020, high school students continued to be less likely than college students
to participate in the labor force (22.8 percent, compared with 46.3 percent). The 
participation rates for male and female high school students were 20.8 percent and 
24.8 percent, respectively. 

Among college students, those enrolled full time were much less likely to participate 
in the labor force in October 2020 than were part-time students (41.5 percent versus 
82.0 percent). Students at 4-year colleges were also less likely to be in the labor 
force than were students at 2-year schools (43.6 percent and 55.6 percent, 
respectively). Female college students were more likely to participate in the labor 
force than their male counterparts (49.7 percent, compared with 42.2 percent). By race
and ethnicity, the labor force participation rate was lower for Asian college students
(33.2 percent) than for their Black (43.4 percent), White (49.0 percent), and Hispanic
(53.7 percent) counterparts. 

The unemployment rate for high school students, at 12.7 percent in October 2020, was
little changed over the year. The rate for college students (10.8 percent) increased
from the previous year. 

All Youth Not Enrolled in School (Ages 16 to 24)

In October 2020, 16.5 million persons ages 16 to 24 were not enrolled in school. The 
labor force participation rate of youth not enrolled in school decreased over the year
to 79.2 percent. Among youth not enrolled in school in October 2020, young men 
continued to be more likely than young women to participate in the labor force (82.5 
percent, compared with 75.4 percent). Labor force participation rates for not-enrolled
men and women were highest for those with a bachelor's degree or higher (92.8 percent 
and 90.8 percent, respectively) and lowest for men and women with less than a high 
school diploma (66.8 percent and 47.0 percent, respectively). (See table 2.)

The unemployment rate for youth ages 16 to 24 not enrolled in school, at 11.3 percent
in October 2020, increased from the previous year. Among not-enrolled youth who did
not have a high school diploma, unemployment rates in October 2020 were 10.2 percent
for young men and 11.2 percent for young women. The jobless rates of young men and young
women with at least a bachelor's degree were 8.6 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.
Among youth not enrolled in school, the unemployment rate was higher for Blacks (20.1
percent) than for Hispanics (11.0 percent), Whites (9.7 percent), and Asians (8.7 percent).

Recent College Graduates (Ages 20 to 29)

Between January and October 2020, 1.0 million 20- to 29-year-olds earned a bachelor's 
degree; of these, 692,000 (or 67.3 percent) were employed in October 2020, down from 
76.0 percent in October 2019. The unemployment rate for recent college graduates with a
bachelor's degree increased to 12.8 percent in October 2020. (See table 3.)

In October 2020, 67.6 percent of male recent bachelor's degree recipients and 67.1 
percent of female recent bachelor's degree recipients were employed. The jobless rates
for recent male and female bachelor's degree recipients were 16.1 percent and 10.2 
percent, respectively. 

About one-quarter (or 273,000) of recent bachelor's degree recipients were enrolled in
school in October 2020. These recent graduates who were enrolled in school were much 
less likely to be employed than those who were not enrolled (42.0 percent versus 76.4 
percent).

Between January and October 2020, 306,000 persons ages 20 to 29 earned an advanced 
degree--that is, a master's, professional, or doctoral degree. In October 2020, 74.7
percent of those who recently earned an advanced degree were employed, compared with
82.3 percent in October 2019. The unemployment rate for recent advanced degree 
recipients was 12.6 percent in October 2020.

Recent Associate Degree Recipients (Ages 20 to 29)

Of the 335,000 20- to 29-year-olds who completed an associate degree between January
and October 2020, 59.2 percent were employed in October 2020, down from 71.3 percent
in the previous year. The unemployment rate for recent associate degree recipients 
was 15.8 percent in October 2020. (See table 3.) 

Recent associate degree recipients ages 20 to 29 were more likely to have completed an
academic program than a vocational program (57.3 percent, compared with 42.7 percent).
Associate degrees in academic programs are primarily in the arts and sciences and are
often transferable to a bachelor's degree program, while associate degrees in 
vocational programs prepare graduates for a specific occupation.

In October 2020, 143,000 (or 42.7 percent) recent associate degree recipients were 
enrolled in school. Of these recent recipients who were enrolled in school, 49.3 
percent were employed, compared with 66.5 percent for recent associate degree 
recipients who were not enrolled in school.



The PDF version of the news release

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: April 27, 2021