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Labor force participation rates of college students differ by enrollment status and type of college

May 24, 2023

In October 2022, 11.6 million people ages 16 to 24 were enrolled in college. Of these, 89.2 percent were enrolled full time and 10.8 percent were enrolled part time. Those enrolled full time were much less likely to participate in the labor force in October 2022 than were part-time students (42.4 percent versus 81.0 percent). The labor force participation rates for full- and part-time students were little changed from October 2021 to October 2022.

Labor force participation rates of full- and part-time college students, October 1994–2022
Year Full-time students Part-time students

1994

52.5 89.6

1995

51.5 86.3

1996

53.1 88.4

1997

51.6 88.0

1998

54.2 88.9

1999

53.4 87.4

2000

55.1 88.5

2001

50.9 89.6

2002

51.8 84.5

2003

51.0 83.7

2004

53.7 87.0

2005

52.7 88.2

2006

49.3 85.7

2007

48.6 85.3

2008

49.4 85.5

2009

46.5 84.5

2010

45.8 82.7

2011

46.2 84.4

2012

45.7 80.7

2013

43.4 82.1

2014

44.7 85.7

2015

42.5 79.9

2016

42.3 83.3

2017

43.9 85.4

2018

42.0 83.4

2019

44.5 87.2

2020

41.5 82.0

2021

42.7 83.6

2022

42.4 81.0

Among college students ages 16 to 24, 78.1 percent were enrolled in 4-year colleges in October 2022, and 21.9 percent were enrolled in 2-year colleges. Students enrolled in 4-year colleges were less likely to be in the labor force than were students enrolled in 2-year colleges (44.0 percent versus 55.5 percent). The labor force participation rates in October 2022 for those attending 2- and 4-year colleges were little changed from a year earlier.

Labor force participation rates of 2- and 4-year college students, October 1994–2022
Year Enrolled in 2-year college Enrolled in 4-year college

1994

71.6 54.7

1995

68.5 53.5

1996

71.3 54.0

1997

69.6 52.8

1998

72.1 54.9

1999

69.6 54.7

2000

71.9 56.4

2001

71.9 52.0

2002

68.5 52.5

2003

66.6 52.5

2004

69.5 54.8

2005

67.1 54.8

2006

64.8 51.4

2007

64.2 50.0

2008

63.3 50.1

2009

60.6 47.6

2010

58.5 47.9

2011

61.1 48.1

2012

56.5 48.3

2013

57.8 45.8

2014

58.9 46.7

2015

57.4 44.3

2016

58.4 44.2

2017

60.0 46.0

2018

55.3 45.0

2019

59.8 46.9

2020

55.6 43.6

2021

58.3 44.7

2022

55.5 44.0

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see “College Enrollment and Work Activity of Recent High School and College Graduates — 2022.”

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Labor force participation rates of college students differ by enrollment status and type of college at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2023/labor-force-participation-rates-of-college-students-differ-by-enrollment-status-and-type-of-college.htm (visited July 19, 2024).

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