College Graduates Employment Statistics

What Percentage of College Students Get a Job After They Graduate?

The percentage of college students, which includes those who have undergrad or higher education degrees, getting a job is distinctly higher than the percentage of young adults who have completed/or not completed high school. 

In 2018, young adults with a college degree had an employment rate of 79 %, while those who had graduated from high school had an employment rate of 72 %. Those who did not graduate from high school had an employment rate of 59 %.  

While looking at the employment rate, it is also important to understand that it takes an average of 3-6 months for a college student to find a job after graduating. Planning and preparing ahead is extremely useful in ensuring a job opportunity and helping your resume get recognized for a job opening.

Although the beginning of 2020 had an optimistic forecast on employment prospects for college students, the onslaught of Covid-19 has markedly slowed down the momentum in the job market at the moment.

General College Graduate Employment Statistics – 2023

  • Nearly 25% of employers in 2020 are considering revoking job offers that have already extended to the graduating class of 2020.
  •  As per a recent report from a talent acquisition software organization –iCIMS- young adults who are about to graduate in 2020 had sent out 20 job applications on an average during late-March 2020, as opposed to 10 job applications during the beginning of March 2020.
  • The national unemployment stands at 14.7 % in April 2020 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics- with every state recording dismal unemployment rates and 33.5 million Americans filing for unemployment aid. This casts a shadow on prospective employment opportunities for college graduates
  • The average salary for entry-level jobs has fallen from $59,765 in 2019 to $54, 585 this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  
  • According to NACE, nearly 70% of the internship offers that were offered are not being rescinded due to the financial crunch this year.  
  • Annually, undergrad degree holders earn $32,000 more than high school graduates.
  • Millennials today who are high school graduates earn 62% of what an average college graduate earns.
  • The median income in 2019 for college graduates (bachelor degree holders) between the ages of 22-27 years stood at $44,000 per annum, while high school graduates in similar age brackets had a median income of $30,000 per annum.
  • After the 2008 Financial Recession, when unemployment reached its peak in 2010, college graduates weathered an unemployment rate of 6.9% while their high school graduate counterparts faced an unemployment rate of 15.8%. Today the college unemployment rate for young graduates stands at just 2.5%.  
  •  The incidence of poverty amongst young graduates is 3.5 times less than those who hold a high school diploma. 99% of the newly-created jobs post 2008 recession went to those who possessed a college degree.  

The Employment Rate for College Graduates by Year

1. 72.3% of young college graduates were employed in 2019.

62.5 % of young adults aged 25+ were employed in August 2019. The employment ratio stood at 72.3% for those graduating with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s and beyond. 

2. 20% of engineering graduates received job opportunities in 2019- making them the most employable.

 According to Emsi, a labor market analytics company, the top majors that had the highest employability in 2019 was for engineering graduates (20%), software development (13%), language/philosophy (17%), and journalism/writing (10%).

3. Total Non-Farm Payroll Employment plummeted to 20.5 million in April 2020.

 Due to the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the U.S. has dropped to the lowest in 50 years – 3.5% and has impacted all crucial sectors with heavy employment cuts in leisure and hospitality. This has ruined the prospects of 158,000 jobs in 2020.

The Employment Rate for College Graduates Vs High School Graduates

4. The employment rate for young adults was 73% in 2010 while it was 82% in 2000.

 The U.S. economy went through a recession from December 2007 to June 2009. However, the employment rate picked up in 2010 and reached 79% in 2018. High school graduates had a lower employment rate of 68% in 2010 which later reached 72% in 2018. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

5. College grads in 2016 made up 36% of the workforce, while high-school graduates made up 34% of the same. 

College graduate’s dominance in the economy has been accelerating. The number of young college graduates who have been employed has risen by 21% since December 2007, while the number of employed high school graduates has plummeted by 8%.  

6. In 2015, young college degree holders earned 56% more on average when compared to high school diploma holders.

As per the data collated by the Economic Policy Institute, college graduates earned more on average when compared to high school graduates. In 1999, college graduates earned 51% more than the latter, and this figure rose by 5% in 2015.  

7. In 2007, 73% of high school graduates were employed while in 2015 only 2/3 of high school graduates between ages 25-64 had jobs.

The percentage of high school diploma-holders having jobs has drastically reduced over the period from 2007 to 2015. On the contrary, young college graduates in the same age bracket experienced a slight dip in employment from 84% in 2007 to 83% in 2015.

8. In 2018, the college graduate employment rate was higher (86%) as compared to high school graduates (72%).

 In 2018, young adults who possessed a bachelor’s or master’s degree had better chances of employment as opposed to those who possessed a high school diploma. 

Likewise, there was a similar pattern observed in young adult females where those who possessed an undergrad or graduate degree had 83% employment, while those who had completed high school had a relatively lower 41% employment.  

Statistics on College Graduates Getting Jobs 

9. Master’s graduates in Health are likely to work in the Education Sector (22.2%) and Public Administration Sector (7.2%).

There is a lesser probability of graduates with a degree in Health to work in the Health Industry, as opposed to those who have certificate/associate’s degrees as they much rather end up with jobs in the Public Administration and Education sectors.  

10. Business/Management/Marketing graduates (nearly 20%) are mostly employed in the Finance/Insurance industry.

Business/Management/Marketing graduates are mostly employed in the Finance and Insurance Industry (nearly 20%), followed by the professional sector (nearly 15%) and the Retail Sector (nearly 10%). 

11. Associate degree holders (86.1%) in the Health Field are employed by the Health Industry.

Associate degree holders have the highest employment percentage in the Health Industry (86.1%), followed by Certificate holders (81.1%) and Bachelor degree holders (74.9%). 

College Graduates in Employment Demographics 

By Gender

12. College graduates employment statistics say that women are more than half (57.4%) out of nearly 1/5 adults who make up college graduates.

Less than 1/5 of the young adults that fall in the age category of 21-24 years are college graduates. Women make up more than 50% of the number of young college graduates (57.4%).

13. In 2018, women college graduates had a higher employment rate of 83%.

When compared to young male graduates, young female graduates had a higher employment percentage (83%), while on the contrary, young female adults who did not have a high school diploma had the lowest employment percentage (41%). 

14. The gap between the wages of young graduate men and women has widened from 10.7% to 12.9%.

Although the growth of wages for both young graduate men and women has been sluggish for the period 2000 to 2019, it has still resulted in widening the gap between the genders from 10.7 to 12.9%.  

By Age

15. In 2015, 27% of the population in the age bracket of 65 and above had a college degree.

While 27% of 65+ year-olds had a college degree, the percentage of adults in the age category of 45-64 years stood at 32% and that of young adults in the age bracket of 25-34 years was 36%. 

By Race

16. Out of a total population of American young adults, White and Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) young adults for 2/3 of the race that holds a college degree.

When compared to Black/Hispanic young adults, White and AAPI young adults form 54.3% of young adults, and out of that 2/3 of them hold college degrees. On the other hand, young adults of Black and Hispanic descent have a lower probability of becoming college graduates.  

17. Young White graduates are paid 12.2% more than young Black graduates.

In the later part of the 1990s Black young college graduates were a little behind their White counterparts in terms of hourly pay. However, the disparity grew after the 2008 recession, which has resulted in lower wages for young Black graduates.  

18. Young college graduates (21-24-year-old) are likely to be White (66%).

Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders also account for 12.5% of graduates as against their population of 7.3%. However, Blacks and Hispanics account for 15.1 and 21.8% of the young adult population but only make up 10% and 10.9% of the young graduates, respectively.

Employment Rate by Major

19. Approximately 70% of those who majored in Computer Science received placement before graduating from college.

As per the data collated by the National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE), almost 70% of young computer science graduates had one job offer in hand before graduating from college. The second degree with the most offers is Economics (61.5%) followed by Accounting (61.2%)  

20. Visual and Performing Arts students had dismal job offers (27.8%).

College students finding jobs after graduation in Visual and Performing Arts received the least placements, followed by Education (28.9%) and Environmental Studies (30.5%). 

College Degrees With the Highest Employment Rate

College students harbor a dream of a career that is both lucrative and aligned with their aspirations. While some students are determined to follow their passion, there are others who aim for a degree that has the best employment prospects. Despite having chalked out a career path, there are external factors that might impact the college graduate employment rate-such as the state of the economy and the job market. However, students can identify certain bachelor’s degree programs that have better opportunity rates than others. Some majors can help graduates be better-positioned for competitive roles, where prospective employers handpick the best candidates for the highest paying jobs. Hence, finding a job after college statistics can also be a part of one’s strategy. 

Here are some degrees that offer the best chances of being employed and are well-paying at the same time:

21. Weather Forecasting holds the lowest unemployment rate of only 0.58%.

The college employment rates of graduates who hold a major degree in meteorology and atmospheric sciences are very good. According to college job placement statistics, out of 25,417 degree holders in this discipline, merely 148 are without employment.  

22. Medical Technology is a domain where 98% of graduates are employed with amongst the highest college job placement rates.

Out of a pool of 183,000 medical technology bachelor’s degree holders, 98% are successfully employed and paid handsomely with an average annual salary of $55,436.

23. Students majoring in Agricultural Economics have less than 300 unemployed out of a pool of 36,967.

Those majoring in Agricultural Economics find a career in areas such as agricultural finance, farm management, natural resource management, etc. These graduates are likely to find employment and also comparatively have a higher average annual income of $71,634.

24. Students majoring in Geosciences are least likely to be unemployed and are amongst the best-paid amongst graduates with an annual salary of $79,851.

The annual income of a degree-holder in geosciences is three times the average annual income of a college graduate. Besides such graduates have careers in natural preservation, energy extraction, and earth sciences- which makes them amongst those who are less likely to face unemployment given their high demand. 

25. The percentage of college graduates that can’t find jobs after graduating from Physical Sciences graduate is less than 1%.

As per college graduate job statistics, a graduate with a major in Physical Sciences can opt for a career in geology, chemistry, astronomy, among others. The versatility of this degree is the reason why the unemployment rate for college graduates in Physical Sciences is less than 1%- more so because most go in for a master’s program in their discipline.

Statistics on College Graduates Vs Non-Graduates

26. Non-graduates are less likely to be a part of the labor force (22.3%).

College vs no college statistics state that high school graduates are less likely to become a part of the labor force when compared to college graduates (50.2%).

27. College graduate’s employment statistics say that non-graduates have an unemployment rate of 11.3%.

In comparison to high school students, the college graduate unemployment rate is less than half (4.3%), which shows that the latter successfully find jobs after graduation. 

28. 64% of non-graduates are likely to have their own houses.

This statistic has reduced by 6% from 70% in 2000. On the contrary, ¾ of college graduates own their own homes. This percentage has slightly dropped from 77% in 2000. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


The percentage of jobs requiring a college degree is much higher than those holding a high-school diploma. It is important for students to find out which discipline they are interested in when pursuing a college degree. A passion for a subject should be the basis for opting for a college major. However, there are certain professions that have very high unemployment rates or even underemployment rates. Hence, this should also be factored in while pursuing a major. We live in dynamic and very volatile times. Hence it is important to find a balance between passion and market demand, and the best college graduate employment rate is something that must be studied before deciding on a college major.

Frequently Asked Questions
What Percentage Of College Graduates Are Unemployed?

Nearly 53% of college graduates are unemployed. 2.1% of bachelor’s degree holders are unemployed- while those majoring in Mass Media have the highest unemployment rate of 7.8%, those majoring in General Education have a 1% unemployment rate. 

What Percentage Of The Workforce Has A College Degree?

As per the Census Bureau, 33.4% have a college degree.  

What Race Has The Highest College Graduation Rate?

Asian Americans have the highest college graduation rate of 50.1%.  

What Is The Meaning of Graduate Unemployment?

Graduate Unemployment is when a person is educated and holds a higher education degree but is unable to find a job that is aligned to his capabilities and requirements. The reason behind this could be manifold, but it is predominantly the lack of employment opportunities amidst competition.  

Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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