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The Education of American Workers

Labor Force Participation

Data gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics show that adults with higher levels of education are more likely to participate in the labor force than those with less education. As reported in the Digest of Education Statistics, 2004, about 77.9% of adults twenty-five years of age and over with a bachelor"s degree participated in the labor force in 2004, compared with 63.2% of high school graduates who had not gone on to college and just 45.1% of those who had not completed high school. The labor force participation rate for African-Americans aged twenty-five and older with bachelor"s degrees (83%) was higher in 2004 than the average for whites (77.3%) and Hispanics (82.1%) with bachelor"s degrees. Among high school graduates in 2004, the labor force participation rate was 74% for Hispanics, which exceeded the percentages of both African-Americans (67.5%) and whites (60.9%) in the labor force with high school diplomas. (See Table 4.5.)

As might be expected, NCES data also reveal that people with lower levels of education are more likely to be unemployed than those with higher levels of education. The Digest of Education Statistics, 2004 reveals that the unemployment rate for adults aged twenty-five and older who had not completed high school was 8.5% in 2004. In comparison, only 5% of those who had completed high school were unemployed, as were 2.7% of those who had attained a bachelor"s degree or higher. Unemployment was a larger issue in 2004 among less-educated African-Americans twenty-five years of age or older than for those in other racial or ethnic groups. During that year African-American adults who had not completed high school had the highest percentage of unemployment (15.5%), compared with whites (7.7%) or Hispanics (7.5%). (See Table 4.6.)

Additional topics

Jobs and Career OpportunitiesCareers and Occupations: Looking to the FutureThe Education of American Workers - A Better-educated Nation, Labor Force Participation, Dropouts And High School Graduates, Education And Earnings