Between 1990 and 2013, the percentage of twenty-five- to twenty-nine-year-olds with a high school diploma or its equivalent increased from 86 to 90 percent while the percentage of those who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 23 to 34 percent, according to The Condition of Education 2014, released on May 29 by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The report also finds narrowing gaps between the percentages of white students and students of color with a high school diploma or its equivalent, as shown in the table below. (Click on the image for a larger version).
The growing gaps in postsecondary completion between white students and students of color are especially disturbing considering the growing importance of some form of postsecondary education in today’s economy. According to the report, individuals aged twenty-five to thirty-four with a bachelor’s degree ($46,900) earned 57 percent more than high school completers ($30,000) and more than twice as much as high school dropouts ($22,900).
The report also reveals a steady decline in employment for individuals with less education. From 2002 to 2012, the percentage of young adults without a high school credential who were employed full-time declined from 60 percent to 49 percent; for those with a high school credential, the percentage declined from 64 percent to 60 percent. For individuals with a bachelor’s degree, the rate increased from 71 percent to 73 percent.
These trends in employment were confirmed by the May 2014 jobs report released by the U.S. Department of Labor on June 6. According to the jobs report, the unemployment rate for individuals aged twenty-five or higher with at least a bachelor’s degree was 3.2 percent. The unemployment rates for high school graduates (6.5 percent) and high school dropouts (9.1 percent) were roughly two and three times higher, respectively.
The Condition of Education 2014 also examines the impact on employment of the recent economic recession from 2008 to 2010. “In general, individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree faced a lesser impact on employment from the recession than did high school completers and those who did not complete high school,” the report notes. “From 2008 to 2010, the 14.3 percentage-point increase (from 18.2 to 32.4 percent) in the unemployment rate for males who did not complete high school and the 10.5 percentage-point increase (from 13.3 to 23.7 percent) for male high school completers were higher than the 5.1 percentage-point increase (from 4.7 to 9.8 percent) for males with at least a bachelor’s degree.”
The Condition of Education is a congressionally mandated annual report to policymakers about the progress of education in the United States. This year’s edition includes forty-two different indicators on topics such as population characteristics, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education.
The Condition of Education 2014 is available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014083.pdf.