The job market for recent college graduates in the United States
April 05, 2013
In October 2011, the unemployment rate for 20- to 29-year-olds who had graduated from college in 2011 was 12.6 percent. The rate was 13.5 percent for those who recently had earned bachelor’s degrees and 8.6 percent for those who recently had earned advanced degrees. Despite modest improvement since the most recent peak in October 2009, the unemployment rates of recent college graduates remained above the rates prior to the 2007–2009 recession.
|Degree and gender||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011|
Men who had earned bachelor’s degrees in 2011 had an unemployment rate of 16.1 percent in October 2011, compared with 11.2 percent for their female counterparts. Over the period of October 2007 to October 2009, the unemployment rate of both male and female recent bachelor’s degree recipients rose sharply. The increase in unemployment was especially severe for men, who experienced a peak unemployment rate of 26.6 percent in October 2009, more than twice the rate of their female counterparts.
The October 2011 unemployment rate for men who had earned advanced degrees in 2011 was 12.0 percent, compared with 6.1 percent for women who had earned advanced degrees in 2011.
Among the employed 2011 recipients of bachelor’s or advanced degrees, about 2 in 5 found work in educational and health services in October 2011. Twenty percent of recent bachelor’s degree recipients and 30 percent of recent advanced degree recipients were employed in educational services. About 18 percent of recent bachelor’s degree recipients and 25 percent of recent advanced degree recipients worked in health care and social assistance.
|Industry||Bachelor's degree||Advanced degree|
Health care and social assistance
Professional and business services
Leisure and hospitality
Wholesale and retail trade
All other industries
Almost one-quarter of 2011 recipients of advanced degrees were employed in professional and business services. Recent bachelor’s degree recipients made up almost all of the recent graduates employed in leisure and hospitality.
These data are from the Current Population Survey. To learn more, see "Recent college graduates in the U.S. labor force: data from the Current Population Survey," (PDF) by Thomas Luke Spreen, Monthly Labor Review, February 2013. College graduates are persons who completed a bachelor’s degree or more education. Recipients of an advanced degree are those who received a master’s, professional, or doctoral degree.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, The job market for recent college graduates in the United States on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130405.htm (visited January 27, 2021).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
- Occupational Employment and Wages in Metro and Nonmetro Areas
Examines similarities and differences in employment and wages between metro and nonmetro areas.
- Gulf War Era Veterans in the Labor Force
Examines the demographic, employment, and unemployment characteristics of civilians who served in the U.S. military during Gulf War era.
- Using BLS Data to Match People with Disabilities with Jobs Presents data that can help increase access and opportunity for people with disabilities in the nation’s labor market.
- How Women and Aging Affect Trends in Labor Force Growth Examines how women’s labor force participation and the aging of the U.S. population affect trends in labor force growth.