Calendar year 2022

Graduate labour market statistics

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These statistics show labour market conditions for the following groups living in England:

  • Graduates
  • Postgraduates
  • Non-graduates

This release also sets out a breakdown of graduate outcomes by different subcategories, such as by age group, gender, ethnicity and disability status.

Headline facts and figures - 2022

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Key statistics

For working-age graduates, employment rates continued to rise, increasing by 0.7 percentage points compared to 2021 to 87.3% in 2022.This follows a period of sustained increases between 2009 and 2018, when the rate peaked at 87.7%, but was followed by decreases in 2019 and 2020. The working-age graduate employment rate has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

The working-age postgraduate employment rate rose by 1.1 percentage points in 2022 compared to 2021, which was larger than the 0.7 percentage point increase for working-age graduates. The employment rate for working-age postgraduates is now above pre-pandemic-levels. 

Rates for working-age non-graduates fell in 2022 by 0.2 percentage points. This follows decreases since 2019, showing that working-age non-graduates' employment rates post-pandemic are not yet recovering.

For information on the employment rates of the young population, please refer to the Headline Outcomes section. 

The likelihood of being in high-skilled employment increases as the level of education increases (from non-graduate to graduate to postgraduate). Only 23.6% of non-graduates were in high-skilled employment, whereas the rate for graduates was 66.3% and for postgraduates it was 78.3%. Whilst there was a difference of only 2 percentage points between graduate and postgraduate employment rates, there was a greater difference between their respective high skilled employment rates, which was 12 percentage points higher for postgraduates than for  graduates. Similarly, the gap between the high-skilled employment rate for graduates and non-graduates is higher than the overall employment rate gap.

Median (nominal) salaries increased for both graduates and non-graduates in 2022, with the graduate premium (represented by the difference between the two salaries) widening to £11,500 compared to £10,500 in 2021. However, in real terms (2007 prices, using CPI-H) the graduate premium for 2022 becomes £8,000. 

In nominal terms, salaries increased for all groups. However, in real terms, salaries for graduates and non-graduates remained the same from 2021 to 2022, whilst postgraduates saw a decrease of £1,000.

Comparisons over time and other interpretations of these data should be made with caution. The median salary figures in this publication are rounded to the nearest £500. Please note, salaries are calculated using earnings from individuals’ full-time main jobs only. 


The Graduate Labour Market Statistics (GLMS ) in this publication cover labour market conditions for English domiciled graduates and postgraduates and compare these to English domiciled non-graduates. This edition of the GLMS summarises the annual employment and earnings outcomes data for graduates, postgraduates, and non-graduates in 2022. This edition includes, for the first time, graduate earnings adjusted for inflation. 

All earnings data in this publication are calculated for full-time workers only, and are rounded to the nearest £500. Difference between groups (such as the graduate premium) are calculated from unrounded data.  In addition to the median earnings data, this publication also provides the employment and earnings outcomes of graduates by various characteristics, in particular age group and gender. Outcomes by age group are presented for both the working-age (16 – 64 year olds) and young (21 – 30 year olds) populations. Outcomes are also broken down by ethnicity, disability status, degree class and industry of employment. 

This publication also contains information on part-time employment patterns for graduates and non-graduates. For these groups, part-time workers’ employment outcomes are broken down by age group and gender. 

This publication provides time series data covering the period from 2007 to 2022, which enables us to identify and understand key trends in the headline statistics over time. As the results presented in the publication are based on quarterly Labour Force survey data, they represent estimates. Any comparisons between groups and over time should be treated with caution as differences are not necessarily statistically significant.

Although not a primary focus of this 2022 publication, the employment and earnings outcomes for 2020 and 2021 should be viewed against the backdrop of the significant adverse shock to the UK macroeconomy due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which severely disrupted business activity in many sectors of the UK economy. 

In this publication, graduates refer to people whose highest qualification is an undergraduate degree at Bachelor’s level; postgraduates are those holding a higher degree (such as a Master’s or PhD) as their highest qualification; and non-graduates are those whose highest qualification is below undergraduate level, i.e. National Qualification Framework Level 5 or below (see methodology note for more details). 

Please note, there have been numerous methodological changes for the 2022 publication, including amendments to the classification of graduates, postgraduates and non-graduates, which have resulted in small changes to the back series. For the first time, the Office for National Statistics have also included ‘degree apprenticeships’ and ‘graduate apprenticeships’ in their Labour Force Survey. As such, for the first time in the GLMS publication, individuals with these qualifications have been classified as either graduates or postgraduates and included in the relevant category. Additionally, there has been a reweighting of 2020 and 2021 data, which again has resulted in changes from previous publications. Please refer to the methodology note for detail on these changes and subsequent impacts on findings. 

The GLMS publication only provides simple outcome measures based on survey data and does not control for the differences in characteristics between graduates, postgraduates, and non-graduates. This means that the outcomes reported may not be wholly attributable to the fact that an individual holds a particular qualification, but instead could reflect other factors, such as their skills, experience, or geographic location.

Other publications also provide statistics on postgraduates and graduates, though they are not directly comparable with the GLMS publication. This includes the DfE ‘LEO Graduate and Postgraduate Outcomes’ publication, which includes estimates of outcomes and earnings (including real earnings), 1, 3, 5 and 10 years after graduation. In addition, the Institute for Financial Studies (IFS) has published some further research ‘The returns to undergraduate degrees by socio-economic group and ethnicity’, which also looked at real earnings of individuals that took their GCSEs between 2000 and 2007 for groups that subsequently attained at least five A*-C GCSEs, but either did or did not go into higher education.  Links to these releases can be found below:

Headline outcomes

Graduates and postgraduates in the working-age population had broadly similar employment, unemployment, and inactivity rates in 2022, with postgraduates seeing slightly better outcomes across all metrics. 

Employment outcomes for non-graduates were considerably worse compared to graduates and postgraduates across all three metrics. For example, the non-graduate inactivity rate (4.8%) was more than double that of postgraduates (2%), and just short of double that of graduates (2.5%). Over one in four non-graduates (26.9%) were economically inactive in 2022, compared to 10.1% of graduates and only 8.8% of postgraduates. 

For graduates and postgraduates, employment rates for the young population are broadly similar to the working-age population. However, for non-graduates, the difference is larger, with the employment rate being 4.8 percentage points higher for the young population. 

Inactivity rates overall are lower for the young population compared to the working-age population, with non-graduates seeing the largest difference in inactivity rates (5.8 percentage points). However, the inactivity rates for non-graduates within the young population was still far greater than those for graduates and postgraduates.

Unemployment rates are higher across all groups in the young (aged 21-30 years) population compared to the whole working-age population of 16-64 year olds, with postgraduates seeing the largest difference in unemployment rates across the two groups (2.3 percentage points differential). Although there are likely to be many reasons as to why unemployment rates for graduates and postgraduates in the young population are higher than the working-age population, one explanation could be due to the recent increase in economic inactivity among older adults of working age. 

The high-skilled employment rate is  higher across all groups in the working-age population compared to the young population. There was a 5.5 percentage point difference between both graduates and postgraduates in the working-age population compared to the young population. There was a smaller difference of 1.7 percentage points when comparing the high-skilled employment rates of non-graduates. This could be due to either the skills that workers accrue throughout their careers which help them to progress into higher-skilled jobs as they get older, or due to higher qualifications giving workers extra skills and opportunities to develop and move into better paid and skilled jobs. 

Across both working-age and young populations in 2022, postgraduates had the highest nominal and real terms salaries, followed by graduates, and then non-graduates who had the lowest nominal and real terms salaries, on average. 

Median salaries diverged across young and working-age populations. This disparity was most significant in the postgraduate group, with nominal salaries being £11,500 higher in the working-age population than the young population. In comparison, these differences for graduate and non-graduate groups were £8,500 and £3,000 (in nominal terms) respectively. This conforms to the notion that earnings growth is more pronounced later within a person’s working life, but people with higher levels of education can expect to see the most growth. 

Year-on-year changes in employment rates

Unemployment rates fell for both working-age and young graduates, postgraduates and non-graduates. The biggest difference was seen in the unemployment rate of young non-graduates, where the rate fell from 7% in 2021 to 5.7% in 2022 - a decrease of 1.3 percentage points. 

For graduates and postgraduates the fall in unemployment rates is largely explained by increases in employment rates. For non-graduates the fall is largely explained by a rise in inactivity rates.

Employment rates time series data (2007 - 2022)

While employment rates for both graduates and postgraduates in the working-age population increased slightly in 2021 and 2022, rates for working-age non-graduates fell in 2022 by 0.2 percentage points. This follows decreases since 2019, suggesting that working-age non-graduates employment rates post-pandemic are not recovering. In the young population, employment rates rose for all groups, though the increase for non-graduates was small, and the rate remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Similarly to the trend in employment rates, between 2007 and 2022 high-skilled employment rates have fluctuated slightly more for the young population than the working-age population. 

Although the employment rate for working-age non-graduates has continued to fall in 2022, the high-skilled employment rate for this group has increased by 0.2 percentage points and has surpassed 2007 levels. This suggests that non-graduates in low/medium skilled employment are losing out compared to non-graduates in high-skilled employment, which is improving.

Although postgraduates were most likely to be in high-skilled employment compared to the other groups, postgraduates and graduates high-skilled employment rates have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, and remain lower than in 2007, which pre-dates the UK economic recession in 2008/09.

The unemployment rate fell across all groups in the working-age population in 2022, and this was mirrored in unemployment rates for the young population. 

In 2022, younger groups had higher unemployment rates than the working age groups. The gap in unemployment rates between working-age non-graduates and young non-graduates was 0.9 percentage points, with a corresponding gap of 1.8 percentage points for graduates and 2.3 percentage points for postgraduates.

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 remained below that of the graduate unemployment every year except 2010 and 2017, while in 2021 and 2022 these rates were the same. Non-graduates consistently had higher unemployment rates across the time series compared to both graduates and postgraduates in both the working-age and young populations, suggesting that obtaining a degree leads to more secure employment.

Salaries time series data (2007 - 2022)

For the first time, annual salaries across the time series have been adjusted to account for inflation and reflect real-term earnings. Time series for both nominal and real earnings are published below. For the 2022 publication of GLMS, real-term earnings have been calculated using the May 2023 edition of ONS Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPI-H). Further details are set out in the methodology note.

Salaries are higher for those with higher qualifications and are higher in the working-age population than the young population. 

Median (nominal) salaries were higher in the working-age population than the young population for graduates, postgraduates, and non-graduates in 2022. The difference in nominal medians was largest for postgraduates (£11,500) and smallest for non-graduates (£3,000). This might reflect that postgraduates take longer to obtain higher wages after leaving study or might be attributable to postgraduates entering the labour force when they are older, thus having less time to increase their wages before the age of 30. The difference between the median (nominal) salaries of working-age graduates and young graduates in 2022 was £8,500.

In real terms the difference between the median salaries of working-age graduates and non-graduates has narrowed over time, decreasing from £10,000 in 2007 to £8,000 in 2022. The difference between the median salaries of working-age graduates and postgraduates has also narrowed but to a lesser extent, decreasing from £5,500 in 2007 to £3,500 in 2022.

In real terms the difference between the median salaries of young graduates and non-graduates has also narrowed over time, but to a lesser extent than in the working-age population, decreasing from £6,000 in 2007 to £4,000 in 2022.

Differences in salary may be attributable to the characteristics of individuals within each group, and not solely due to qualification level or age.

In 2022, median salaries were higher for males than females across all graduate types and across both age groups. The salary differential between males and females was greatest for working-age graduates at £9,000 in nominal terms. For postgraduates, the difference was £7,000. The difference for non-graduates was lower at £6,000.

The median nominal salary for female graduates was only £4,000 higher than the median nominal salary for male non-graduates in 2022. In contrast, the median nominal salary for male graduates was £13,000 higher than the median nominal salary for male non-graduates.

The median nominal salary for female postgraduates was £6,000 higher than female graduates, whereas the difference between male postgraduates and male graduates was £4,000.

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. Data on the proportion of men and women in part-time work can be found in the Office for National Statistics’ dataset on full-time, part-time and temporary workers. -

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. Further analysis of the gender pay gap in 2022 can be found in the Office for National Statistics’ publication: The gender pay gap in the UK: 2022. -

Median salaries by industry

Male graduates employed in Transport and Communication had the highest median (nominal) salaries in the working-age population (£50,000), followed by males in Banking and Finance (£48,000). In the young graduate population, males in Transport and Communication and Manufacturing both had the highest median salary of £36,000. In contrast, female graduates in the working-age population had the highest median salaries when working in the Construction industry (£43,500). Females in the young population also had the highest median salaries when working in Construction (£33,000). 

Males and females employed in Distribution or Hotels, or Restaurants had the lowest median salaries across both working-age (£31,000 and £28,500 respectively) and young (£24,000 and £24,500 respectively) populations. 

Across all industries and age groups, males had higher median salaries than females, with the exception of Distribution or Hotels or Restaurants, where for the young population, females had slightly higher median salaries (£24,500, compared to £24,000 for males). 

Note that industry data for working-age female graduates and both young male and female graduates working in agriculture, forestry and fishing has been suppressed. Comparisons against these groups are therefore not possible. 

Further analysis of the gender pay gap in 2022 can be found in the Office for National Statistics’ publication: The gender pay gap in the UK: 2022. -

Disability, ethnicity, degree class and gender breakdowns

Disabled graduates were less likely to be employed (highly skilled or otherwise) and more likely to be inactive than their non-disabled peers. The inactivity rate for disabled graduates (19.2%) was more than double the rate for non-disabled graduates (8.8%).

White working-age graduates had the highest employment rate (87.5%) and high-skilled employment rate (66.9%) in 2022. 

Other Ethnic Group graduates saw the lowest employment rate (85.3%), while Black or African or Caribbean or Black British graduates saw the lowest high-skilled employment rate (58.5%). 

The variation in the high-skilled employment rate across ethnicities was much higher (a range of 8.4 percentage points) than the variation in employment rates (a range of 2.2 percentage points). 

Black or African or Caribbean or Black British graduates had the lowest inactivity rate (8.6%). Graduates in the Other Ethnic Group had the highest inactivity rate (11.7%). 

White graduates had the lowest unemployment rates (2.3%), compared to Black or African or Caribbean or Black British graduates who had the highest unemployment rates (4.9%). 

In 2022, working-age graduates with first class and upper second (2:1) degrees had very similar employment rates (88.6% and 88.5%) and inactivity rates (9.3% and 9.4%) respectively, suggesting there was little difference in employment status depending on whether graduates achieved a first class or an upper second (2:1).

Working-age graduates with either a lower second (2:2) and third class degrees had slightly lower employment and high-skilled employment rates and higher inactivity rates compared to those with first class and upper second degrees. 

However, working-age unemployment rates were very similar across all degree types except third class degrees. The rate for both first and upper second class degrees was the same at 2.3%, while lower second class degrees were slightly higher at 2.4%. The unemployment rate for third class degrees was double that of first and upper second class degrees.

In 2022, both working age graduate employment rates and graduate high-skilled employment rates were higher for males compared to females (88.6% and 86.1%) and (70.3% and 62.5%) respectively.

Working age graduate inactivity rates for males (8.6%) were lower than for females (12.2%), but working age unemployment rates for females (2.0%) were 1.1 percentage points lower compared to males (3.1%) in 2022.  The lower employment rates for female graduates are thus explained by higher rates of inactivity.

Part-time employment

Across all age breakdowns, non-graduates had a higher proportion of workers in part-time employment than graduates.

In general older workers are more likely to be employed part-time, and this is true for both graduates and non-graduates, the only exception to the trend in 2022 being for non-graduates in the age group 41-50 years olds, which had a slightly lower part-time rate slightly lower than 31-40 year olds.

The difference between the proportion of workers in part-time employment across graduates and non-graduates decreases consistently through older cohorts, with a gap of 6.5 percentage points among 21 - 30 year olds, reducing to only 0.7 percentage point among 51 – 60 year olds.

Young graduates have consistently been less likely to be in part-time employment than the working age-graduate population. However, since 2007, the proportion of graduate young part-time employment varied slightly more compared to working age graduates. Proportions rose for both groups after 2007, but have been more stable in recent years. Both age groups saw a decline in the proportion in part-time employment between 2019 and 2021, but subsequently increased in 2022.

Young non-graduates have consistently been less likely to be in part-time employment than the working-age young non-graduate population. 

In percentage point terms, the proportion of young non-graduates in part-time employment has fluctuated to a greater extent than working-age non-graduates. For non-graduates, the proportion in part-time employment steadily rose from 2007 reaching a peak in 2012 (within the working age population) and 2013 (within the young population), and has since tended to decline. 2021 saw the smallest proportion of working-age non-graduates in part-time employment at any point since the beginning of this series (26.2%), meanwhile the smallest proportion of the young population in part-time employment was in 2007 (18.6%). 

In 2022 part-time employment for non-graduates increased slightly to 26.6% for the working-age population and also increased to 20.8% for the young population, up 0.4 and 0.1 percentage points respectively on 2021.

Females graduates and non-graduates were more likely to be employed part-time than their male counterparts. Non-graduates were more likely to be employed part-time than graduates for both genders. The proportion of workers in part-time employment rose slightly in 2022 for all groups compared to the previous year.

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