Between 2007 and 2020, employment rates have fluctuated slightly more for the young population compared to working-age population. This might suggest that the employment of young people is disproportionately influenced by changing structural conditions in the economy or alternatively that young people are more responsive with their labour supply.
Whilst employment rates for both graduate and postgraduates in the working population fell between 2019 and 2020, within the young population only graduates saw falling employment rates. The postgraduate employment rate remained at 88.3% for a second consecutive year; the non-graduate employment rate rose to its highest level since before 2007 – 74.8%.
Similar to the trend in employment rates, high-skilled employment rates fluctuated more for the young population than for the working-age population. Overall, however, high-skilled employment rates have varied less since 2007 than employment rates. This suggests that high-skilled jobs are more secure and less susceptible to economic shocks.
Non-graduates were the only group whose high-skilled employment rate was above 2007 levels in 2020; this was true for both age group cohorts.
Between 2019 and 2020 unemployment rates increased for all qualification categories in the working-age population. Within the young population, unemployment rates rose for graduates and non-graduates, but fell slightly for postgraduates (by 0.1 percentage points to 3.9%).
For both age groups, the graduate unemployment rate rose most in the year to 2020 – by 1.8 percentage points for the young population, and by 1.1 percentage points for the working-age population. This narrowed the gap between non-graduate and graduate unemployment rates to 1.6 and 0.8 percentage points, in the working-age and young populations, respectively. These are the smallest differences for either cohort since 2007.
Since 2007, the postgraduate unemployment rate has remained persistently below that of the graduate group within the working-age population. Meanwhile, for the young population, the postgraduate unemployment rate has been below that of the graduate unemployment every year except 2010 and 2017. In 2020, the gap between the two rates was 2.4 percentage points.
Median (nominal) salaries were higher in the working-age population than the young population for postgraduates and non-graduates; there was parity between the graduate cohorts.
Median postgraduate salaries exceeded those of graduates in the working population, however, we see an inverse relationship in the young population. Given the additional delay to labour market entry induced by postgraduate study, young postgraduates might have less time time to progress in their roles and earn higher wages, on average. In the long term, they are rewarded for their higher qualifications. This could, however, be a product of heterogeneity between the types of people who undertake postgraduate study and graduates, rather than attributable to the qualification itself.
*Comparisons over time and other interpretations of these data should be made with caution. The median salary figures in this publication are not adjusted for inflation and are rounded to the nearest £500.
Median (nominal) salaries were higher for working-age males than females in each qualification breakdown. At £8,500, the salary gap was largest for graduates. This was down from a high of £10,000 in 2019, however. The gap was £7,000 for postgraduates and £6,000 for non-graduates.
Since median salaries are calculated for individuals employed in full-time work only, the higher proportion of females in part-time work does not contribute to the gender pay gaps in these figures.
Using median salaries mitigates against average values being skewed by extremes. It does, however, conceal other features of the data, for example, that the difference in pay between the sexes is largest among high earners.
Comparisons over time and other interpretations of these data should be made with caution. The median salary figures in this publication are not adjusted for inflation and are rounded to the nearest £500.
 Office for National Statistics – Gender pay gap in the UK: 2020