Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Trends in Educational Attainment in the U.S. Labor Force

by Bill McBride on 5/10/2016 01:44:00 PM

Yesterday I posted a graph of the unemployment rate by level of education.

This brings up an interesting question: What is the composition of the labor force by educational attainment, and how has that been changing over time?

With the help of Tim Duy, Economics Professor at the University of Oregon, and Josh Lehner, at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, here is some data on the U.S. labor force by educational attainment since 1992.

Labor Force by Education Click on graph for larger image.

Currently, approximately 53 million people in the U.S. labor force have a Bachelor's degree or higher.  This is 39% of the labor force, up from 26% in 1992.

This is the only category trending up.  "Some college" has been steady, and "high school" and "less than high school" have been trending down.

Based on currently trends, probably more than half the labor force will have at least a bachelor's degree within two decades.

Some thoughts: Since workers with bachelor's degrees typically have a lower unemployment rate, this might push down the overall unemployment rate over time.

Also, I'd guess there will be less labor turnover, and fewer weekly claims (just a guess).

More education is one of the reasons I'm optimistic about the future (see: The Future's So Bright ...)