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U.S. Workers Better Educated, Labor Department Study Finds

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Washington--The educational attainment of the nation's labor force has improved substantially during the past decade, the Labor Department has reported.

A study by the agency's Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 26 percent of all workers ages 25 to 64 are now college graduates, up from 21 percent in 1978.

Gains were evident throughout the population, the study indicated. The percentage of workers with college degrees increased from 21.4 percent to 26.4 percent among whites, from 10.3 percent to 15.2 percent among blacks, and from 8.6 percent to 13.2 percent among Hispanics.

The bls also found "a large and important" decrease in the proportion of workers who have not completed high school. For blacks, the percentage of dropouts in the workforce fell from 39.7 percent to 22.6 percent; for Hispanics, the rate declined from 51.6 percent to 40.1 percent. The percentage of dropouts in the white workforce fell from 26.4 percent to 21.4 percent.

The bureau also found, howev4er, that the proportion of workers who finished their formal education with a high-school diploma had stayed relatively constant at about 40 percent during the 10-year period.

Among the study's other findings:

College graduates continue to have the highest rate of participation in the labor force. Overall, 88 percent of all college graduates were in the workforce, compared with 77 percent of those who had graduated from high school and 61 percent of those who had dropped out.

As in previous years, workers with the most years of education experienced the lowest rate of unemployment. This year's jobless rate for college graduates is 1.7 percent, compared with 5.4 percent for high-school graduates and 9.4 percent for dropouts.

Copies of the report, "Educational Level of U.S. Labor Force Continues To Rise," USDL 88-423, can be obtained by writing the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, D.C. 20212.--tm

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