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It's not easy being 27

March 27, 2014: 8:38 AM ET

Your late 20s are supposed to be one of the best times of your life: Old enough to build a career and start a family. But young enough to party.

According to a batch of new government data, it turns out it's not all beer and roses.

The U.S. Department of Labor is conducting a massive survey of millennials: Since 1997, researchers have followed the same group of 9,000 people, all born between 1980 and 1984. They have conducted 15 rounds of interviews.

The latest findings were released Wednesday and show how the cohort is doing at age 27.

Share your story: what have you been doing in your 20s?

Less than a third (28%) had a bachelor's degree. For that group, job prospects aren't bad, and unemployment remains low.

But what about the rest? Most worrisome are the 9% of 27 year olds who never even completed high school or a GED program. Since turning 18, these young adults have spent an average of 50 weeks (almost an entire year!) unemployed.

And that's not counting the time spent out of the labor force completely for any type of education, training or taking care of family. By age 27, high school dropouts have spent an average of 144 weeks out of the labor force.

To dive deeper into the data, check out the Department of Labor's full results from the survey.


Not surprisingly, college graduates have the highest levels of employment. By age 27, a college-educated adult has spent an average of 12 weeks unemployed, whereas her high school dropout peers have been unemployed for almost a year (an average of 50 weeks).


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