U.S. high school graduates and dropouts: unemployment rate 2018

This graph shows the unemployment rate of high school graduates and dropouts not enrolled in school from 2000 to 2018. In 2018, around 13.7 percent of high school dropouts were unemployed, compared to 14.1 percent of graduates. See the United States unemployment rate and the monthly unemployment rate for further information.

Unemployment among high school dropouts and high school graduates

As seen from the timeline above, high school graduates are generally employed at a higher rate than individuals who had dropped out of high school. Since 2000, the share of high school dropouts to be employed has risen and fallen. Unemployment of high school dropouts reached a low in 2018 at 13.7 percent, almost matching that of graduates. In 2018, 89.8 percent of the U.S. population who were aged 25 and above had graduated from high school.

Unemployment of high school dropouts is also much higher than the national unemployment rate in the United States. As of 2018, unemployment in the U.S. was at 3.9 percent, down from a high of 9.6 percent unemployment in 2010, the highest yearly rate in ten years. Nationwide, unemployment is worst among farming, fishing, and forestry occupations, with a rate of 10.5 percent in April 2019, followed by construction and extraction occupations and service occupations.

Not only were almost 14 percent of high school dropouts unemployed in 2018, but working high school dropouts earned less on average than individuals of any other level of educational attainment. In 2017, mean earnings of individuals who had not graduated from high school were about 26,469 U.S. dollars annually, compared to 38,145 dollars among high school graduates and 67,763 dollars among those with a Bachelor's degree.

Unemployment rate of high school graduates and dropouts not enrolled in school in the United States from 2000 to 2018

YearGraduatesDropouts
201814.1%13.7%
201713.2%18.9%
201613.1%31.9%
201516.4%19.8%
201421.2%30.3%
201325.8%27.9%
201225.7%49.6%
201126.7%38.4%
201027.8%42.7%
200928.4%55.1%
200820.3%39.5%
200714.7%26.9%
200616.4%23.1%
200513.7%32.9%
200416.4%39.9%
20009.5%28.1%
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Source

Release date

April 2019

Region

United States

Survey time period

2000 to 2018

Age group

16-24 years

Supplementary notes

Graduates refer to persons who graduated from high school in January through October of the respective year.
Dropouts are persons who who dropped out of school in the ongoing school year which starts and ends in October.
Data from previous years has been taken from respective releases which can be found here.

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