BLS April Jobs Report Shows Benefits of College

Once again, the BLS’ jobs report shows why college is a good investment, not just for individual students but for society as a whole. The April jobs report, released today, showed a rebound in job creation and further evidence of a consistent issue: Earning a college degree is the best insurance against unemployment. The unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 2.7% in April, compared with 5.4% for the labor force as a whole. Here are April’s unemployment rates by educational attainment:

  • Less than high school: 8.6%
  • High school graduate: 5.4%
  • Some college or 2-year degree: 4.7%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 2.7%

What’s equally interesting is that the labor force participation rate is far higher among those with college degrees than those without. (Labor force participation rate is the percent of the population that is either employed has actively looked for work in the past 4 weeks. Specifically excluded from that rate are those who have given up looking for work, “involuntary part-time workers” who would prefer full-time work, or those who choose not to work for various reasons.)

April’s Labor Force Participation Rate by educational attainment was:

  • Less than high school: 45.7%
  • High school graduate: 57.2%
  • Some college or 2-year degree: 67.4%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 74.6%

The “official” unemployment rate cited above by educational attainment– the “U3” rate– is the rate among labor force participants. Other unemployment measures include those whom we might also consider unemployed: the discouraged, the marginally attached and the involuntary part-timers. The U6 rate is the most comprehensive, including all three of those categories. The U6 rate tends to be 50-100% higher than the U3 rate; for April it was exactly double at 10.8%. The significantly higher Labor Force Participation Rate among college degree holders, therefore, means that those with a degree are far less likely to be out of the workforce for reasons not of their own choosing.

The full report, as well as some descriptions of the labor force, is available here.

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