Since 1997, the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping tabs on about 9,000 young men and women born in the early 1980s, surveying their educational and workplace progress. The latest survey is from interviews conducted in 2011-12.
According to the survey, more than two-thirds of the jobs held by high-school dropouts lasted less than a year.
Women in the study group overall were more educated than the men. Thirty-two percent of the women earned a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24 percent of the male participants. Overall, 70 percent of the women had either some college or received a bachelor’s degree, compared to 61 percent of the men.
In the survey, young adults born from 1980 to 1984 held an average of 6.2 jobs from ages 18 to 27 — 6.0 jobs for men and 6.3 for women.
The number of jobs held varied by educational levels, more for women than for men. For men it ranged from 5.9 jobs for those with less than a high-school diploma to 6.0 jobs for those with a college bachelor’s degree or higher. For women, those with less than a high-school diploma held 4.9 jobs over the period while women with a bachelor’s degree or higher held 6.9 jobs.
Joe Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor and contributing faculty member to the U.S. Competitiveness Project, said the report contained no big surprises, but “what this data really says is, if you have less educational attainment, you’re more likely to be unemployed. Or if you’re an ethnic minority. ... There’s nothing new there. But it’s got good data, and it updates it.”
The study included the period of the recession that ended in 2009. During that period, jobs across all age groups were lost and overall unemployment soared to 10 percent. It was 6.7 percent in February.
Some of the other findings in the report:
—Men were one-fourth less likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree than women. By age 27, some 32 percent of the women had received a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24 percent of the men.
— Non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites not to have obtained a high school diploma. Whites were more than twice as likely as blacks or Hispanics to have received their bachelor’s degree by this age.
—Thirty-four percent of the young adults were married at age 27, while 20 percent were living with partners and 47 percent were still single. Young adults with more education were more likely to be married and less likely to be cohabiting.
—Nearly 41 percent of the study group had either their own or a partner’s child in the household at age 27. Sixty-five percent of married individuals had at least one child in the home, compared with 21 percent of single individuals and 48 percent of those who were cohabiting.
—By their 27th birthday, nearly 34 percent of young adults had held at least one job since age 18. Of the jobs held by 18 to 26 year old workers, 57 percent ended in one year or less, and another 14 percent ended in less than two years.