Students leaving college boosting jobless rate

Updated: 2013-04-18T21:47:26Z


The Kansas City Star

Sixty to 70 percent of U.S. high school graduates have, for at least the last 15 years, enrolled in college in the fall after their high school graduation.

According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that held true in 2012, when 66.2 percent of high school graduates went on to a two- or four-year college as of October.

But, also in line with recent history, many in the 16-24 age group don’t stay enrolled in any school. Last year, 58.6 percent of young people in that age group were enrolled in either high school or college.

Those enrollment rates are closely watched by the labor bureau because of their correlation to the national employment and unemployment rates. Students are less likely to be counted as members of the labor force because they’re not working or looking for work.

The labor department said 87.8 percent of the 2012 high school graduates who went on to college were full-time students last fall. As such, they were half as likely as their part-time-student or non-student peers to have or want jobs.

Among 16- to 24-year-olds who weren’t enrolled in any school last fall, the labor force participation rate was 79.3 percent, compared to a labor force participation rate of 38.4 percent of those who were enrolled.

Of particular note to labor market analysts: the unemployment rate of young people who were enrolled in school but were looking for work was 13.7 percent. That compared to an unemployment rate of 16.5 percent of young job hunters who weren’t enrolled in school.

Both rates were significantly higher than the national unemployment rate for workers of all ages. That rate, as of October 2012, was 7.9 percent.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to

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