WASHINGTON (April 19, 2012) — In October 2011, 68.3 percent of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Recent high school graduates not enrolled in college in October 2011 were more likely than enrolled graduates to be working or looking for work (68.7 percent compared with 38.8 percent).
Information on school enrollment and work activity is collected monthly in the Current Population Survey (CPS), a nationwide survey of about 60,000 households that provides information on employment and unemployment. Each October, a supplement to the CPS gathers more detailed information about school enrollment, such as full- and part-time enrollment status. Additional information about the October supplement is included in the Technical Note.
Recent high school graduates and dropouts
Of the 3.1 million youth age 16 to 24 who graduated from high school between January and October 2011, about 2.1 million (68.3 percent) were enrolled in college in October 2011. The college enrollment rate of recent high school graduates was slightly lower than the record high set in October 2009 (70.1 percent). For 2011 graduates, the college enrollment rate was 72.3 percent for young women and 64.6 percent for young men. The college enrollment rate of Asian graduates (86.7 percent) was higher than for recent white (67.7 percent), black (67.5 percent), and Hispanic (66.6 percent) graduates.
The labor force participation rate (the proportion of the population working or looking for work) for recent high school graduates enrolled in college was 38.8 percent. The participation rates for male and female graduates enrolled in college were 36.5 and 41.0 percent, respectively.
Among recent high school graduates enrolled in college in October 2011, 91.9 percent were full-time students. Recent graduates enrolled as full-time students were considerably less likely to be in the labor force (35.1 percent) than were their peers enrolled part time (79.7 percent).
About 6 in 10 recent high school graduates who were enrolled in college attended 4-year institutions. Of these students, about a third participated in the labor force, compared with about half of recent graduates enrolled in two-year colleges.
Recent high school graduates not enrolled in college in the fall of 2011 were more likely than enrolled graduates to be in the labor force (68.7 percent compared with 38.8 percent). The unemployment rate for recent high school graduates not enrolled in school was 33.6 percent, compared with 21.1 percent for recent graduates enrolled in college.
Between October 2010 and October 2011, 369,000 young people dropped out of high school. The labor force participation rate for recent dropouts (55.5 percent) was lower than for recent high school graduates not enrolled in college (68.7 percent). The jobless rate for recent high school dropouts was 38.4 percent, compared with 33.6 percent for recent high school graduates not enrolled in college.
All youth enrolled in high school or college
In October 2011, 58.5 percent of the nation’s 16- to 24-year-olds, or 22.4 million young people, either were enrolled in high school (9.6 million) or in college (12.8 million). The labor force participation rate (39.0 percent) of youth enrolled in school was essentially unchanged from October 2010 to October 2011. The unemployment rate for this group declined over the year from 16.8 percent to 14.2 percent.
In October 2011, college students continued to be more likely to participate in the labor force than high school students (51.8 percent compared with 22.0 percent). About 85 percent of college students were enrolled full time. Those attending college full time had a much lower labor force participation rate than did part-time students. Asian college students were less likely to participate in the labor force than black, white, or Hispanic college students. Female college students were somewhat more likely to be in the labor force (53.5 percent) than their male counterparts (50.0 percent). Female high school students were also more likely to be in the labor force (24.7 percent) than were males (19.5 percent).
The unemployment rate for high school students, at 25.2 percent in October 2011, was more than twice the rate for college students (10.7 percent). Unemployment rates for black (38.8 percent) and Hispanic (36.1 percent) high school students continued to be higher than for white high school students (22.6 percent).
All youth not enrolled in school
In October 2011, 15.9 million persons age 16 to 24 were not enrolled in school. The labor force participation rate of youth not enrolled in school in October 2011 was 79.6 percent, little changed from a year earlier. Among youth not enrolled in school in October 2011, men continued to be more likely than women to participate in the labor force — 84.8 percent compared with 74.0 percent. Labor force participation rates for not-enrolled men and women were highest for those with at least a bachelor’s degree and lowest for those with less than a high school diploma.
The unemployment rate for youths age 16 to 24 not enrolled in school edged down from 18.7 percent in October 2010 to 17.5 percent in October 2011. Among youth not in school in October 2011, unemployment rates for those without a high school diploma were 19.7 percent for young men and 31.2 percent for young women. In contrast, the jobless rates for young men and women with at least a bachelor’s degree were 9.5 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively. Black youth not enrolled in school had an unemployment rate of 28.5 percent in October 2011, higher than the rates for their white (15.3 percent), Asian (15.1 percent), and Hispanic (18.5 percent) counterparts.