Being White and Having Only a High School Diploma Was Best for Long Term Employment

July 25th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: As it turns out,  baby boomers who were white with high school diplomas (and no college) were better able to find jobs and keep employed even compared to university graduates. The time period covered by this study was from 1978-2010.

The BLS issued a news release detailing the findings of a survey of the youngest baby boomers (people born between 1957 -1964). These people are considered to be born in the latter most part of the "baby boom" era.  The findings were taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth conducted in 1979. This was a survey of 9, 964 men and women aged 14-22. The same people were interviewed again in 2010-2011.

Follow up:

Chart source: PDF News Release

The decades long research provides information on several categories of those topics including but not limited too:

  • Work & non-work experiences
  • Education
  • Training
  • Income & assets
  • Health

The data taken from the longitudinal survey focused on four main groupings:

The total number of jobs held

  • The individuals (18-46 years old) had held an average of 11.3 jobs
  • 5.5 of those jobs were held between (18-24 years old)


  • Of the workers employed during (18-24 years of age), 69% of the jobs ended within one year, 95% ended within 5 years
  • Job duration tended to be longer in older age, however many of the baby boomers held many short term jobs in middle age as well

Participation in the labor force

  • The baby boomers exhibited in the survey were employed most of the time, 78% of all weeks occuring (between ages 18-46)
  • 17% of the weeks were spent unemployed, the rest of the time spent looking for work
  • Education played a huge role: those without a high school diploma spent only 60% of their weeks employed compared to those with a diploma spending 79% of their weeks employed
  • Those with a minimum bachelor's degree were the most fortunate,  spending 82% of their weeks employed
  • At every age, women spent less time in the labor force than their male counterparts by roughly 2-3 times

Growth in earnings.

  • Earnings adjusted for inflation grew most when the workers were young, hourly earnings grew an average of 6.3% per year (ages 18-24) compared to 4.1% (ages 25-29) and 3.2 % (ages 30-34) and 0.9% (ages 40-46)
  • Those with less than a high school diploma saw the lowest increase in earnings


Here are the a few of the charts outlining the collected data

Chart source: PDF News Release


To read all the data presented in this study, click on the source hyperlink below.

Written by Jillian Friesen, GEI Associate

SourceBLS News Release

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