Jobs, Education, and Households: Stats About America’s Youth As They Age

April 8, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Hispanic | Household Income | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

CensusBureau-Americas-Youth-at-27-Apr2014The Census Bureau recently released the results of a longitudinal survey that tracked a nationally representative sample of roughly 9,000 men and women interviewed annually from the ages of 12-17 in 1997 to the ages of 26-32 in 2011-2012. The study takes a special look at demographic statistics including employment, educational attainment, and household size of America’s young adults by the age of 27, with some interesting findings.

The following provides some highlights from the study across the various areas studied.

  • Household Status

By the time they reached the age of 27, 34% of young adults were married, 20% were unmarried and living with a partner, and 47% were single. Young adults with a college education were more likely to be married (37%) than high school dropouts (27%).

There was a strong racial disparity in marriage rates: 39% of whites were married at the age of 27, while just 15% of blacks were. By contrast, 68% of blacks were single at that age, versus 41% of whites.

Meanwhile, 41% of young adults either had their own child or a partners’ child living in the household at the age of 27. But, that average masked a significant gender difference: women of that age were almost twice as likely as men to be living with a child in the home (52% vs. 29%).

Not surprisingly, young adults who were married at the age of 27 were most likely to have children in the home (65%). By comparison, 48% of cohabiting young adults and 21% of single adults (41% women; 5% men) had children in the household.

  • Educational Attainment

At the age of 27, some 66% of young adults had either received their bachelor’s degree (28%) or attended some college or received an associate’s degree (38%). This figure was higher among women (70%) than men (61%). (More on the demographics of college graduates here.)

Educational attainment rates also differed by race and ethnicity: white (33%) were more than twice as likely as blacks or Hispanics (15% each) to have earned their bachelor’s degree by the age of 27.

  • Employment Status

Job security is clearly not a strength for young adults: individuals tracked in the study who were born between 1980 and 1984 held an average of 6.2 jobs from ages 18 through 26.

Young adults were employed for an average of 73% of all available weeks from age 18 through 26, and were unemployed (without jobs but seeking work) for 6% of those weeks. Job security tends to increase with age: from the ages of 18 to 22, individuals held an average of 4.3 jobs, compared to an average of 2.7 between the ages of 23 to 26.

On average, the results indicate that men spent more time employed – and less time out of the workforce – than women. This gap was particularly pronounced for those with less than a high school diploma: men in this group spent 62% of weeks employed from ages 18 through 26, compared to just 43% for women. But, women with at least a bachelor’s degree spent a larger portion of their time employed than men (77% vs. 71%).

Educational attainment played a large role in employment for young blacks. Those with at least a bachelor’s degree were employed 71% of weeks from age 18 through 26, compared to 59% for high school graduates who never enrolled in college and 39% for those without a high school diploma.

Of the jobs held by 18-26-year-old workers, 57% ended in 1 year or less, with another 14% ending in less than 2 years.

Other Findings:

  • Young adults who were married at age 27 worked more weeks from 18 through 26 than their single counterparts (77% vs. 70%).
  • Men aged 27 with children in the home had worked more weeks between the ages of 18 and 26 than those without children (79% of weeks versus 73%).
  • By contrast, women at that age with children in the home worked 65% of weeks between the ages of 18 and 26, compared to 76% for those without children in the home.
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