Rising educational attainment among Blacks or African Americans in the labor force, 1992 to 2018

February 13, 2019

In 1992, 42 percent of Blacks or African Americans age 25 and older in the labor force had completed at least some college (that is, some college, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree and higher). By 2018, 63 percent of Blacks in the labor force had completed at least some college.

Percent of Blacks or African Americans in the labor force age 25 and older by educational attainment, 1992–2018 annual averages
Year Total Less than a
high school diploma
High school graduates,
no college
Some college or
associate degree
Bachelor's degree
and higher

1992

100.0% 18.2% 39.5% 26.4% 15.9%

1993

100.0 16.0 39.2 28.2 16.6

1994

100.0 15.0 37.6 29.6 17.8

1995

100.0 13.9 37.1 30.7 18.3

1996

100.0 14.1 37.0 30.9 18.1

1997

100.0 14.2 37.4 30.3 18.1

1998

100.0 13.6 36.9 30.4 19.1

1999

100.0 12.4 36.5 31.2 19.9

2000

100.0 12.4 36.0 31.2 20.5

2001

100.0 12.4 35.5 31.5 20.5

2002

100.0 12.5 35.4 31.5 20.5

2003

100.0 11.5 35.5 31.2 21.8

2004

100.0 11.2 36.2 30.3 22.3

2005

100.0 11.2 36.4 30.2 22.2

2006

100.0 11.0 35.2 30.6 23.2

2007

100.0 10.0 35.0 30.9 24.0

2008

100.0 9.6 34.7 31.8 23.8

2009

100.0 9.3 34.0 32.4 24.3

2010

100.0 9.4 33.3 32.8 24.5

2011

100.0 8.9 33.6 32.8 24.7

2012

100.0 8.3 32.8 32.7 26.2

2013

100.0 8.6 31.8 32.8 26.9

2014

100.0 8.2 31.3 33.1 27.3

2015

100.0 7.5 30.9 33.3 28.3

2016

100.0 7.5 31.1 32.6 28.8

2017

100.0 6.9 31.0 32.5 29.6

2018

100.0 6.4 30.6 31.8 31.2

In 2018, 31 percent of Blacks in the labor force had earned a bachelor’s degree and higher, compared with 16 percent in 1992. Another 32 percent of Blacks in the labor force had completed some college or an associate degree in 2018. Just 6 percent of Blacks age 25 and older in the labor force had less than a high school diploma in 2018, down from 18 percent in 1992.

In 2018, the unemployment rate for Blacks age 25 and older with less than a high school diploma was 10.4 percent. That was about three and a half times the rate for Blacks with a bachelor’s degree and higher (2.9 percent).

Unemployment rates of Blacks or African Americans age 25 and older by educational attainment, 1992–2018 annual averages
Year Total Less than a
high school diploma
High school graduates,
no college
Some college or
associate degree
Bachelor's degree
and higher

1992

10.9% 15.3% 12.3% 9.8% 4.4%

1993

9.8 15.4 10.8 8.7 3.8

1994

8.6 13.5 9.9 7.5 3.5

1995

7.4 12.4 8.2 6.7 3.2

1996

7.7 12.6 9.1 6.4 3.1

1997

7.3 13.1 8.1 5.6 3.6

1998

6.4 11.6 7.4 5.1 2.9

1999

5.7 11.6 6.3 4.4 2.7

2000

5.4 10.7 6.4 4.0 2.5

2001

6.2 11.8 7.4 5.0 2.7

2002

7.7 13.3 8.8 6.7 4.2

2003

8.3 13.9 9.3 7.9 4.5

2004

8.1 15.5 8.7 7.6 4.3

2005

7.5 14.4 8.5 6.9 3.5

2006

6.8 12.8 8.0 6.2 2.8

2007

6.2 12.0 7.3 5.5 3.0

2008

7.9 14.5 9.3 7.4 4.0

2009

12.3 21.3 14.0 11.5 7.3

2010

13.4 22.5 15.8 12.4 7.9

2011

13.4 24.6 15.5 13.1 7.1

2012

11.4 20.4 13.4 11.1 6.3

2013

10.5 20.5 12.6 9.8 5.7

2014

9.1 17.2 10.7 8.9 5.2

2015

7.8 15.9 9.7 7.4 4.0

2016

6.8 14.1 8.6 6.1 3.7

2017

6.2 12.5 7.8 5.8 3.6

2018

5.3 10.4 6.7 5.2 2.9

The unemployment rate for Black high school graduates (no college) was 6.7 percent in 2018. The rate for Blacks with some college or an associate degree was 5.2 percent.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more data about race and ethnicity, see our demographics page.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Rising educational attainment among Blacks or African Americans in the labor force, 1992 to 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/rising-educational-attainment-among-blacks-or-african-americans-in-the-labor-force-1992-to-2018.htm (visited August 19, 2019).

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