May 21, 2022

New Statistical Analysis Looks at Outcomes and Experiences of Early Millennials (U.S.) as Young Adults

The following research report was released earlier today by the National Center for Education Statistics.


Early Millennials: The Sophomore Class of 2002 a Decade Later


National Center for Education Statistics


2017-06-29_10-06-39By 2012, 96 percent of students who were high school sophomores in 2002 had completed high school, 84 percent of them had attended postsecondary education, and about one-third of them had earned a bachelor’s or higher degree.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the Institute of Education Sciences, [has] released a new Statistical Analysis Report, entitled Early Millennials: The Sophomore Class of 2002 a Decade Later. This report examines the extent to which 2002 high school sophomores achieved various milestones of early adulthood as of 2012, when most of them were 26 years old, including high school completion, enrollment in postsecondary education, and progress toward or completion of a college degree. The report also looks at family formation (marriage and having children), as well as employment status and earnings. This report uses data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), a multifaceted survey conducted by NCES that was designed to study the 2002 sophomore cohort’s transition from adolescence to adulthood. Main findings include:

  • In 2012, the majority of 2002 high sophomores (93 percent) were in the workforce, including 82 percent who were employed and 11 percent who were unemployed but looking for a job. Seven percent were out of the labor force;
  • Fewer cohort members had taken on such roles as spouse and parent by 2012, however. Thirty-one percent had married, including 28 percent who were currently married and 3 percent who had subsequently divorced, separated, or become widowed. About 23 percent were living with their parents, and one-third had become parents themselves;
  • Outcomes varied among groups defined by various demographic and high school academic characteristics. In general, cohort members from advantaged backgrounds (e.g., those from families of high socioeconomic status and those with strong academic preparation in high school) tended to have higher educational attainment, employment rates, and earnings. Many of these differences were apparent when controlling for a wide range of characteristics in multivariate analyses; and
  • Labor market outcomes were associated with educational attainment. For example, employed master’s or other advanced degree holders earned a significantly higher hourly wage ($21) in their 2012 job than did those with a high school education or less ($15), even while controlling for demographic and academic backgrounds, job characteristics, current enrollment status, and marital and parenthood status.

Direct to Full Text Report 
232 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.