Data on display
Employment and unemployment of recent high school graduates and dropouts

July 2015

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It may be difficult to get a job after leaving high school. But you’re more likely to be employed if you have a diploma, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The chart shows employment–population ratios and unemployment rates in October 2014 for three groups: recent high school dropouts, recent high school graduates not enrolled in college, and recent high school graduates enrolled in college.

Unemployment rates were similar for those who dropped out of high school in the past year and recent high school graduates who were not enrolled in college. However, the employment–population ratio for these recent high school graduates was almost twice the ratio for recent dropouts. Recent high school graduates who were attending college—about 68 percent of the class of 2014—fared better in the labor force than dropouts, with higher employment–population ratios and lower rates of unemployment.

The labor force participation rate—the proportion of the population either working or actively seeking work—for recent dropouts (41 percent) was close to that for recent high school graduates attending college (38 percent) but was much lower than that for recent graduates not enrolled in college (73 percent). Data on labor force participation are also available by college enrollment (2-year and 4-year, full-time and part-time) and by demographic group, such as gender and race.  

These data are from a supplement to the October 2014 Current Population Survey. This supplement also has information about the labor force status for all 16- to 24-year-olds enrolled in high school.

Suggested citation:

"Employment and unemployment of recent high school graduates and dropouts," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2015.