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Economic News Release
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America's Youth at 21: School Enrollment, Training, and Employment Transitions between Ages 20 and 21 Summary

Technical information:  (202) 691-7410  USDL 09-0079
               http://www.bls.gov/nls/
                                        For release:  10:00 A.M. (EST)
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  Friday, January 23, 2009


  AMERICA'S YOUTH AT 21:  SCHOOL ENROLLMENT, TRAINING, AND
        EMPLOYMENT TRANSITIONS BETWEEN AGES 20 AND 21

   At age 21, women are more likely to be enrolled in college than
men, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor
reported today.  Among 21-year-olds not enrolled in college, men are
more likely than women to be employed in a civilian job or serving in
the military. //NLSYTH ZUNI3PO Test 10302020//

   These findings are from the first 10 annual rounds of the National
Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, which is a nationally representa-
tive survey of about 9,000 young men and women who were born during
the years 1980 to 1984.  These respondents were ages 12 to 17 when
first interviewed in 1997, and ages 21 to 27 when interviewed for the
tenth time in 2006-07.  This release focuses on the school enrollment
and employment experiences of these individuals from the October when
they were age 20 to the October when they were age 21.  Respondents
were age 20 in October during the years 2000 to 2005 and age 21 in 
October from 2001 to 2006.

   Highlights from the longitudinal survey include:

      --Among 21-year-olds, 36 percent of men were enrolled in
        college compared with 46 percent of women.

      --Of the 20-year-olds enrolled in college, 82 percent were
        still enrolled when age 21.  Non-Hispanic blacks and
        Hispanics were less likely than whites to continue their
        college enrollment between ages 20 and 21.

      --Ten percent of male high school graduates who had never
        enrolled in college were in the Armed Forces during the
        October when they were age 21, as were 6 percent of the
        21-year-old men who had attended college but were no
        longer enrolled.

      --Thirty-seven percent of high school dropouts and 19 per-
        cent of high school graduates not enrolled in college were
        neither employed nor in training during the October when
        they were age 21.

      --Among high school dropouts, 39 percent of non-Hispanic
        blacks were not employed in either the October when they
        were age 20 or the October when they were age 21 compared
        with 24 percent of Hispanics and 19 percent of non-Hispanic
        whites.

      --High school graduates not enrolled in college were employed
        an average of 77 percent of the weeks between the October
        when they were age 20 and the following October.  By com-
        parison, those who had dropped out of high school were
        employed 57 percent of those weeks.

      --By age 21, about 1 in 4 young adults who had never gone to
        college had been employed by the same employer for 2 or
        more years since they left school.  Five percent had never
        held a job since they left school.


                                  - 2 -



Educational Attainment at Age 21

   Forty-one percent of young adults were enrolled in college during
the October when they were age 21 compared with 43 percent of 20-year-
olds and 45 percent of 19-year-olds.  Forty-three percent of 21-year-
olds had graduated from high school and were not enrolled in college
and 2 percent had earned a General Educational Development (GED)
credential and were not enrolled in college.  Thirteen percent were 
high school dropouts during the October when they were age 21.  (See
table 1.)

   Women were more likely than men to be enrolled in college.  During
the October when they were age 21, nearly half (46 percent) of women
were attending college compared with 36 percent of men.  This differ-
ence in college-enrollment rates stems from three factors:  (1) Women
were more likely to have graduated from high school; (2) among high
school graduates, women were more likely to attend college; and (3) once
enrolled in college, women were less likely than men to leave college
between school years.

   Blacks and Hispanics were less likely than whites to be enrolled in
college during the October when they were age 21.  Forty-four percent of
whites were enrolled in college compared with 30 percent of blacks and
29 percent of Hispanics.

Schooling and Training between Ages 20 and 21

   The level of educational attainment when a person first left school
does not always indicate his or her final level of educational attain-
ment.  Eight percent of individuals who were high school dropouts in the
October they were age 20 had graduated from high school or earned a GED
by the following October.  (See table 2.)

   Some people delay their college enrollment for a year or more after
high school, and others enroll in college and then leave before earning
a degree.  Twelve percent of high school graduates not enrolled in col-
lege during the October when they were age 20 were enrolled in college the
following October.  Eighty-two percent of individuals attending college
during the October when they were age 20 were still attending college by
the following October, while 1 percent were enrolled in a training program
and 17 percent were not enrolled in college or in a training program.

   Instead of attending school, some young adults enroll in training to
further their skills.  Four percent of those who were high school dropouts
in the October when age 20 and 6 percent of high school graduates not en-
rolled in college at that age were attending some kind of training or
apprenticeship program the October when they were age 21.

Employment and Training at Age 21 of Young Adults Not Enrolled in School

   At age 21, labor force status differed substantially between high school
dropouts, high school graduates who had never attended college, and indi-
viduals who had left college.  Those with more education were more likely
to be employed in civilian jobs or in the military.  In the October they
were age 21, about 6 of 10 high school dropouts were employed in civilian
jobs or in the military.  At this same time, 72 percent of high school
graduates who had never enrolled in college were employed in civilian jobs,
and another 6 percent were serving in the Armed Forces, including 10 per-
cent of all men.  Among high school graduates who had some college experi-
ence but were not enrolled in college during the October when they were
age 21, nearly 8 of 10 were employed in civilian jobs, and 4 percent were
serving in the Armed Forces.  (See table 3.)


                                   - 3 -


   Within each of these educational groups, men were more likely to be 
working or serving in the Armed Forces in the October when age 21 than
women.  Sixty-nine percent of male high school dropouts were employed
in the civilian labor force or serving in the Armed Forces compared to
50 percent of female dropouts.  Among high school graduates, 82 percent
of men and 72 percent of women who had never enrolled in college were
employed or in the military, as were 85 percent of men and 79 percent of
women who had attended some college but were no longer enrolled.

   Enrollment in training also varies by educational level. Four percent
of high school dropouts and 6 percent of high school graduates who were
not enrolled in college were receiving training in the October when they
were age 21.  High school graduates obtained more of their training while
employed.  Five percent of high school graduates were both employed and
receiving training in the October when they were age 21, while only 1 per-
cent were receiving training while not employed.  Among high school drop-
outs, 2 percent of 21-year-olds were receiving training while employed and
2 percent were receiving training while not employed.  (See table 4.)

Employment Attachment of Young Adults Not Enrolled in School

   Among individuals who were not enrolled in school during the Octobers
when they were ages 20 or 21, employment status varied considerably by
level of educational attainment.  Twenty-four percent of high school drop-
outs were not employed in either October, and 43 percent were employed in
both Octobers.  Among high school graduates ages 20 or 21 who were not
enrolled in college, 10 percent were not employed in either October, and
68 percent were employed in both Octobers.  (See table 5.)
  
   High school graduates not enrolled in college during the Octobers when
they were ages 20 or 21 were employed an average of 77 percent of the weeks
between the October when they were age 20 and the following October.  By com-
parison, high school dropouts were employed 57 percent of the weeks between
the October when they were age 20 and the following October.  Regardless of
the level of educational attainment, men were employed a larger percentage of
weeks than women, and whites were employed a larger percentage of weeks than 
blacks or Hispanics.  Men were more likely than women to work 40 hours or
more per week.  Male high school dropouts worked 40 hours or more 47 percent
of the weeks between the October when they were 20 and the following October
compared with 28 percent of weeks for female dropouts.  (See table 6.)

Duration of Longest Job Held

   Five percent of young adults who had never enrolled in college by age 21
also had not held a job since dropping out of or graduating from high school.
Forty-one percent had held a job for 1 year or less since they first left
school.  In this report, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work
with a particular employer.  (See the Technical Note for additional informa-
tion on the definition of a job.)  Thirty-three percent had held a job for
more than 1 year but less than 2 years, and 22 percent had held a job for
2 years or longer.  Similar proportions of high school dropouts and high
school graduates had never held a job since leaving school.  High school
dropouts were more likely than high school graduates to have held a job for
1 year or less.  Dropouts were less likely than graduates to have held a
job for 2 years or longer.  (See table 7.)





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Last Modified Date: October 30, 2020