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POOR ECONOMY CONTINUES TO DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECT HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: BLS Finds that Over 55 Percent of Recent High School Dropouts Are Unemployed

Between October 2008 and October 2009, the unemployment rate for recent high school dropouts was 55.1 percent, compared with 35.0 percent for recent high school graduates not enrolled in college, according to an April 27 news release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It also finds that over 70 percent of 2009 high school graduates were enrolled in some form of postsecondary education, the highest mark since the study began in 1959.

Of the 2.9 million students who graduated from high school between January 2009 through October 2009, 2.1 million (70.1 percent) were enrolled in college in October 2009. Among women, 73.8 percent were enrolled in college, compared to 66.0 percent for men. Asian students, at 92.2 percent, were the most likely to go on to college after high school graduation, followed by white graduates (69.2 percent), African American graduates (68.7 percent), and Hispanic graduates (59.3 percent).

The BLS also examined the labor force status of individuals aged sixteen to twenty-four who were not enrolled in high school or college. It found that the unemployment rate for this group of individuals rose from 14.2 percent in October 2008 to 20.3 percent in October 2009. Among men, 23.0 percent were unemployed, compared to 16.8 percent for women. Among individual subgroups of students, African Americans, with an unemployment rate of 33.0 percent, were the most likely to be unemployed, followed by Hispanics (23.1 percent), Asians (20.0 percent), and whites (17.9 percent.)

The BLS also found that individuals aged sixteen to twenty-four with less education were more likely to be unemployed. It found a 31.8 percent unemployment rate for male high school dropouts, compared to a 13.6 unemployment rate for males with bachelor’s degrees or higher. As indicated in the chart below, the unemployment rate for individuals of all education levels has grown dramatically since October 2007, which was two months before the official start of the recession.

poor economy

The April 27, 2010 BLS news release is available at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/hsgec.htm.

The BLS news release with data from October 2007 is available at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/hsgec_04252008.pdf.

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